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JENNIFER DART, Westerly News, June 3, 2010

Several groups working on wave energy on the British Columbia coast gathered in Ucluelet this week to discuss developments in the industry and update local projects.

Representatives from the non-profit Ocean Renewable Energy Group (OREG) chaired the community open house, held June 1 at the Ucluelet Community Centre.

Also in attendance were academics, developers, and representatives from all levels of government, including the Yuu-cluth-aht First Nation and the District of Ucluelet.

OREG executive director Chris Campbell said developing the technology to harness energy from the ocean is a “long, slow process,” but Canadian companies are active internationally, “so it’s gradually becoming more and more real.”

The Ucluelet/Tofino area has long been considered an ideal site for an ocean renewable energy project given its coastal location and proximity to the BC Hydro grid.

“Ocean renewable energy is something that’s been making rattling noises for quite a few years in our area,” said Ucluelet mayor Eric Russcher. “It would be a new and different world we live in but an exciting prospect for us all.”

According to information from OREG, preliminary studies indicate the wave energy potential off Canada’s Pacific Coast is equal to approximately half of Canada’s electricity consumption.

There seems to be a new energy behind wave power in recent months, given in part to new advances in technology, and also specifically in B.C. because of the Liberal government’s Clean Energy Act, which has been tabled in the legislature but has yet to be passed.

Jeff Turner from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources said the Act is meant to achieve energy efficiency while maintaining low rates, generate employment in the clean energy sector, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While critics of the Act say it gives the province oversight on major projects like the Site C dam on the Peace River and could be mean higher hydro rates, the announcement has helped kick start development in areas like wave energy, where researchers are currently focused on pinpointing potential outputs.

Two wave energy projects are in development on the West Coast; one for the waters off Ucluelet and one in close proximity to the Hesquiaht communities at Hesquiaht Harbour and Hot Springs Cove.

John Gunton of SyncWave Systems Inc. presented his company’s plan for the SyncWave Power Resonator, a buoy class device that would be slack moored in depths of up to 200 metres. Simply put, this device captures energy from the upward and downward motion of the wave. Gunton said the company has provincial and federal funding, but is looking for a $3 million investment to complete its first two phases of development for placement near Hesquiaht Point.

A test resonator placed eight kilometres off Ucluelet in 40 metres of waters in December was collecting data for a period of about one month until a mast on it was destroyed. It was repaired, upgraded and redeployed in late April and a website will be set up by a group called the West Coast Wave Collaboration that is comprised of academics and industry representatives to transmit power data. Local partners in this project include the Ucluth Development Corporation, the District of Ucluelet and Black Rock Resort.

The other technology is a near shore device, placed in depths of 35 to 50 metres. The CETO device is owned by Carnegie Wave Energy of Australia, and was presented by David King at the open house. Seven metre cylinders capture wave energy and pump it to an onshore turbine. A government grant will also assist in the development of this technology.

But Jessica McIvoy of OREG said there are many questions left to be answered including what are the impacts on the ocean environment and sea life of such devices, and in turn how will the devices last in the ocean?

Campbell said an adaptive management approach to the technology seems like the best option to proceed with preliminary work, taking into account “critical indicators” in the natural environment.

Yuu-cluth-aht chief councillor Vi Mundy said she’s interested in these indicators after hearing concerns from her community, from fishers for example: “I’m hearing questions like what kind of impact will there be and what kind of standards have been developed so far [in the wave energy industry].”

But she also noted young people in her community are asking for green development that will provide year round employment.

“It’s really good to see that in young people,” Mundy said.

Anyone with questions about wave technology on the coast is invited to contact OREG at questions@oreg.ca.

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MendoCoastCurrent, October 27, 2009

Editor’s Note: Over the past few weeks there have been numerous Blue Whales showing up dead on the coast of California and a cause of the recent Blue Whale washing up on the Mendocino coast has been the topic of great discussion and mystery here. Actual cause of death has been identified by propeller of a NOAA research ship. Additionally, here’s a new theory based on noise pollution and new research: Blue whales are forced to make more noise to compete with man-made noise pollution like ship sounds and sonar. More specifically: Blue whales increase their ‘singing’ to cope with noise pollution. And: Man-made noise such as ships’ engines has caused hearing loss in whales.

LOUISE GRAY, Telegraph UK, September 23, 2009

Whale-460_980418cIt has also caused other behavioural changes, including forcing the creatures to strand on beaches because they are unable to navigate.

The endangered blue whale uses sonar to navigate, locate prey, avoid predators and communicate.

However in recent years the increasing use of hi-tech sonar by ships, the noise of propellers, seismic surveys, sea-floor drilling, and low-frequency radio transmissions have made oceans noisier.

New research has shown that the whales are having to ‘chatter’ more often and for longer periods to communicate the location of prey and to mate.

Zoologist Lucia Di Iorio, of the University of Zurich, analysed the song of blue whales recorded by microphones during seismic explorations in the St Lawrence estuary off Canada’s north east coast over an eleven day period in August 2004.

“We found that blue whales called consistently more on seismic exploration days than on non-exploration days as well as during periods within a seismic survey day when the sparker was operating,” she said.

“This increase was observed for the discrete, audible calls that are emitted during social encounters and feeding.”

The study, published in Biology Letters, provides the first evidence that blue whales change their calling behaviour when exposed to sounds from seismic surveys.

“This study suggests careful reconsideration of the potential behavioural impacts of even low source level seismic survey sounds on large whales. This is particularly relevant when the species is at high risk of extinction as is the blue whale,” added Dr Di Iorio.

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JAMES RICKMAN, Seeking Alpha, June 8, 2009

wave-ocean-blue-sea-water-white-foam-photoOceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface. As the world’s largest solar collectors, oceans generate thermal energy from the sun. They also produce mechanical energy from the tides and waves. Even though the sun affects all ocean activity, the gravitational pull of the moon primarily drives the tides, and the wind powers the ocean waves.

Wave energy is the capture of the power from waves on the surface of the ocean. It is one of the newer forms of renewable or ‘green’ energy under development, not as advanced as solar energy, fuel cells, wind energy, ethanol, geothermal companies, and flywheels. However, interest in wave energy is increasing and may be the wave of the future in coastal areas according to many sources including the International Energy Agency Implementing Agreement on Ocean Energy Systems (Report 2009).

Although fewer than 12 MW of ocean power capacity has been installed to date worldwide, we find a significant increase of investments reaching over $2 billion for R&D worldwide within the ocean power market including the development of commercial ocean wave power combination wind farms within the next three years.

Tidal turbines are a new technology that can be used in many tidal areas. They are basically wind turbines that can be located anywhere there is strong tidal flow. Because water is about 800 times denser than air, tidal turbines will have to be much sturdier than wind turbines. They will be heavier and more expensive to build but will be able to capture more energy. For example, in the U.S. Pacific Northwest region alone, it’s feasible that wave energy could produce 40–70 kilowatts (kW) per meter (3.3 feet) of western coastline. Renewable energy analysts believe there is enough energy in the ocean waves to provide up to 2 terawatts of electricity.

Companies to Watch in the Developing Wave Power Industry:

Siemens AG (SI) is a joint venture partner of Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation, a leader in advanced hydro power technology and services, which owns Wavegen, Scotland’s first wave power company. Wavegen’s device is known as an oscillating water column, which is normally sited at the shoreline rather than in open water. A small facility is already connected to the Scottish power grid, and the company is working on another project in Northern Spain.

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc (OPTT) develops proprietary systems that generate electricity through ocean waves. Its PowerBuoy system is used to supply electricity to local and regional electric power grids. Iberdrola hired the company to build and operate a small wave power station off Santona, Spain, and is talking with French oil major Total (TOT) about another wave energy project off the French coast. It is also working on projects in England, Scotland, Hawaii, and Oregon.

Pelamis Wave Power, formerly known as Ocean Power Delivery, is a privately held company which has several owners including various venture capital funds, General Electric Energy (GE) and Norsk Hydro ADR (NHYDY.PK). Pelamis Wave Power is an excellent example of Scottish success in developing groundbreaking technology which may put Scotland at the forefront of Europe’s renewable revolution and create over 18,000 green high wage jobs in Scotland over the next decade. The Pelamis project is also being studied by Chevron (CVX).

Endesa SA ADS (ELEYY.PK) is a Spanish electric utility which is developing, in partnership with Pelamis, the world’s first full scale commercial wave power farm off Aguçadoura, Portugal which powers over 15,000 homes. A second phase of the project is now planned to increase the installed capacity from 2.25MW to 21MW using a further 25 Pelamis machines.

RWE AG ADR (RWEOY.PK) is a German management holding company with six divisions involved in power and energy. It is developing wave power stations in Siadar Bay on the Isle of Lewis off the coast of Scotland.

Australia’s Oceanlinx offers an oscillating wave column design and counts Germany’s largest power generator RWE as an investor. It has multiple projects in Australia and the U.S., as well as South Africa, Mexico, and Britain.

Alstom (AOMFF.PK) has also announced development in the promising but challenging field of capturing energy from waves and tides adding to the further interest from major renewable power developers in this emerging industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced several wave energy developments including a cost-shared value of over $18 million, under the DOE’s competitive solicitation for Advanced Water Power Projects. The projects will advance commercial viability, cost-competitiveness, and market acceptance of new technologies that can harness renewable energy from oceans and rivers. The DOE has selected the following organizations and projects for grant awards:

First Topic Area: Technology Development (Up to $600,000 for up to two years)

Electric Power Research Institute, Inc (EPRI) (Palo Alto, Calif.) Fish-friendly hydropower turbine development & deployment. EPRI will address the additional developmental engineering required to prepare a more efficient and environmentally friendly hydropower turbine for the commercial market and allow it to compete with traditional designs.

Verdant Power Inc. (New York, N.Y.) Improved structure and fabrication of large, high-power kinetic hydropower systems rotors. Verdant will design, analyze, develop for manufacture, fabricate and thoroughly test an improved turbine blade design structure to allow for larger, higher-power and more cost-effective tidal power turbines.

Public Utility District #1 of Snohomish County (SnoPUD) (Everett, Wash.) Puget Sound Tidal Energy In-Water Testing and Development Project. SnoPUD will conduct in-water testing and demonstration of tidal flow technology as a first step toward potential construction of a commercial-scale power plant. The specific goal of this proposal is to complete engineering design and obtain construction approvals for a Puget Sound tidal pilot demonstration plant in the Admiralty Inlet region of the Sound.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company – San Francisco, Calif. WaveConnect Wave Energy In-Water Testing and Development Project. PG&E will complete engineering design, conduct baseline environmental studies, and submit all license construction and operation applications required for a wave energy demonstration plant for the Humboldt WaveConnect site in Northern California.

Concepts ETI, Inc (White River Junction, Vt.) Development and Demonstration of an Ocean Wave Converter (OWC) Power System. Concepts ETI will prepare detailed design, manufacturing and installation drawings of an OWC. They will then manufacture and install the system in Maui, Hawaii.

Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT) – Manassas, Va., Advanced Composite Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion – “OTEC”, cold water pipe project. Lockheed Martin will validate manufacturing techniques for coldwater pipes critical to OTEC in order to help create a more cost-effective OTEC system.

Second Topic Area, Market Acceleration (Award size: up to $500,000)

Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, Calif.) Wave Energy Resource Assessment and GIS Database for the U.S. EPRI will determine the naturally available resource base and the maximum practicable extractable wave energy resource in the U.S., as well as the annual electrical energy which could be produced by typical wave energy conversion devices from that resource.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation (Atlanta, Ga.) Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the U.S. Georgia Tech will utilize an advanced ocean circulation numerical model to predict tidal currents and compute both available and effective power densities for distribution to potential project developers and the general public.

Re Vision Consulting, LLC (Sacramento, Calif.) Best Siting Practices for Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies With Respect to Environmental and Navigational Impacts. Re Vision will establish baseline, technology-based scenarios to identify potential concerns in the siting of marine and hydrokinetic energy devices, and to provide information and data to industry and regulators.

Pacific Energy Ventures, LLC (Portland, Ore.) Siting Protocol for Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Projects. Pacific Energy Ventures will bring together a multi-disciplinary team in an iterative and collaborative process to develop, review, and recommend how emerging hydrokinetic technologies can be sited to minimize environmental impacts.

PCCI, Inc. (Alexandria, Va.) Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Technologies: Identification of Potential Navigational Impacts and Mitigation Measures. PCCI will provide improved guidance to help developers understand how marine and hydrokinetic devices can be sited to minimize navigational impact and to expedite the U.S. Coast Guard review process.

Science Applications International Corporation (SAI) – San Diego, Calif., International Standards Development for Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy. SAIC will assist in the development of relevant marine and hydrokinetic energy industry standards, provide consistency and predictability to their development, and increase U.S. industry’s collaboration and representation in the development process.

Third Topic Area, National Marine Energy Centers (Award size: up to $1.25 million for up to five years)

Oregon State University, and University of Washington – Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center. OSU and UW will partner to develop the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center with a full range of capabilities to support wave and tidal energy development for the U.S. Center activities are structured to: facilitate device commercialization, inform regulatory and policy decisions, and close key gaps in understanding.

University of Hawaii (Honolulu, Hawaii) National Renewable Marine Energy Center in Hawaii will facilitate the development and implementation of commercial wave energy systems and to assist the private sector in moving ocean thermal energy conversion systems beyond proof-of-concept to pre-commercialization, long-term testing.

Types of Hydro Turbines

There are two main types of hydro turbines: impulse and reaction. The type of hydropower turbine selected for a project is based on the height of standing water— the flow, or volume of water, at the site. Other deciding factors include how deep the turbine must be set, efficiency, and cost.

Impulse Turbines

The impulse turbine generally uses the velocity of the water to move the runner and discharges to atmospheric pressure. The water stream hits each bucket on the runner. There is no suction on the down side of the turbine, and the water flows out the bottom of the turbine housing after hitting the runner. An impulse turbine, for example Pelton or Cross-Flow is generally suitable for high head, low flow applications.

Reaction Turbines

A reaction turbine develops power from the combined action of pressure and moving water. The runner is placed directly in the water stream flowing over the blades rather than striking each individually. Reaction turbines include the Propeller, Bulb, Straflo, Tube, Kaplan, Francis or Kenetic are generally used for sites with lower head and higher flows than compared with the impulse turbines.

Types of Hydropower Plants

There are three types of hydropower facilities: impoundment, diversion, and pumped storage. Some hydropower plants use dams and some do not.

Many dams were built for other purposes and hydropower was added later. In the United States, there are about 80,000 dams of which only 2,400 produce power. The other dams are for recreation, stock/farm ponds, flood control, water supply, and irrigation. Hydropower plants range in size from small systems for a home or village to large projects producing electricity for utilities.

Impoundment

The most common type of hydroelectric power plant (above image) is an impoundment facility. An impoundment facility, typically a large hydropower system, uses a dam to store river water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity. The water may be released either to meet changing electricity needs or to maintain a constant reservoir level.

The Future of Ocean and Wave Energy

Wave energy devices extract energy directly from surface waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface. Renewable energy analysts believe there is enough energy in the ocean waves to provide up to 2 terawatts of electricity. (A terawatt is equal to a trillion watts.)

Wave energy rich areas of the world include the western coasts of Scotland, northern Canada, southern Africa, Japan, Australia, and the northeastern and northwestern coasts of the United States. In the Pacific Northwest alone, it’s feasible that wave energy could produce 40–70 kilowatts (kW) per meter (3.3 feet) of western coastline. The West Coast of the United States is more than a 1,000 miles long.
In general, careful site selection is the key to keeping the environmental impacts of wave energy systems to a minimum. Wave energy system planners can choose sites that preserve scenic shorefronts. They also can avoid areas where wave energy systems can significantly alter flow patterns of sediment on the ocean floor.

Economically, wave energy systems are just beginning to compete with traditional power sources. However, the costs to produce wave energy are quickly coming down. Some European experts predict that wave power devices will soon find lucrative niche markets. Once built, they have low operation and maintenance costs because the fuel they use — seawater — is FREE.

The current cost of wave energy vs. traditional electric power sources?

It has been estimated that improving technology and economies of scale will allow wave generators to produce electricity at a cost comparable to wind-driven turbines, which produce energy at about 4.5 cents kWh.

For now, the best wave generator technology in place in the United Kingdom is producing energy at an average projected/assessed cost of 6.7 cents kWh.

In comparison, electricity generated by large scale coal burning power plants costs about 2.6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Combined-cycle natural gas turbine technology, the primary source of new electric power capacity is about 3 cents per kilowatt hour or higher. It is not unusual to average costs of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour and up for municipal utilities districts.

Currently, the United States, Brazil, Europe, Scotland, Germany, Portugal, Canada and France all lead the developing wave energy industry that will return 30% growth or more for the next five years.

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MARSHA W. JOHNSTON, RenewableEnergyWorld.com, March 2009

One hundred and forty-one years ago, the relentless sea off Scotland’s coast inspired the following observation from native son and author George MacDonald:

I climbed the heights above the village, and looked abroad over the Atlantic. What a waste of aimless tossing to and fro! Gray mist above, full of falling rain; gray, wrathful waters underneath, foaming and bursting as billow broke upon billow…they burst on the rocks at the end of it, and rushed in shattered spouts and clouds of spray far into the air over their heads. “Will the time ever come,” I thought, when man shall be able to store up even this force for his own ends? Who can tell.”

In the United States, permitting may be an even bigger hurdle to marine energy deployment than financing. Between 25 and 35 different U.S. federal, state and local regulatory agencies claim some jurisdiction over marine power deployment. In the UK, two agencies handle permitting.

Today, we can certainly say, “Yes, the time will come.” The only question remaining is how long it will be before humankind routinely and widely uses electricity generated from the kinetic power of ocean tides, currents and waves.

If one defines “commercial ocean energy” as several tens of megawatts, the world cannot yet boast a commercial ocean energy installation. Indeed, only two installations of either wave, tidal or in-stream current devices are grid-connected and can generate over 1 megawatt (MW) of power. One is Pelamis Wave Power’s 2.25-MW Aguçadoura project off of Portugal’s northern coast and the other is Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines’ (MCT) SeaGen, a US $20-million commercial-scale tidal-energy project under development in Northern Ireland’s turbulent Strangford Narrows. In December, SeaGen boasted the first tidal turbine to hit a capacity of 1.2 MW.

(The biggest exception to commercial ocean energy production is the world’s longest running tidal power plant, the 240-MW La Rance, in France. But the plant’s barrage technology, which traps water behind a dam and releases it at low tide, has fallen out of favor due to its perceived higher environmental impact than underwater turbines. Nova Scotia has also been operating a 20-MW barrage Tidal Generating Station in the tidal-rich Bay of Fundy since 1984.)

The rest of the world’s wave, tidal and current installations, some of which have been in the water as far back as the 1990s, are experimental and prototype units ranging in size from 35 kilowatts (kW) to 400 kW. Because these units operate only intermittently and are not typically connected to any grid, it is not possible to determine their total power generation.

Many of these units are prototype demonstration units for the much bigger installations that are under development and that will begin to realize significant exploitation of the world’s ocean energy resource. For example, Ocean Power Technologies Inc. will use the 150-kW PowerBuoy it has been testing since the mid-90s as the “workhorse” for the 270-MW, four-site wave energy plant off California and Oregon coasts that it has partnered with Lockheed Martin to develop, says CEO George Taylor.

And Inverness, Scotland-based WaveGen expects to use 40 units of the 100-kw turbine it just installed off the Island of Islay for a 4-MW farm off of Scotland’s Isle of Lewis. Meanwhile, Pelamis says if its 750-kw “sea snake” devices, which were installed last year, make it through the winter, it will put 37 more of them in the water, generating 30 MW.

All of the wave, tidal, ocean and river current power around North America that can be practically extracted could together provide 10% of today’s electrical consumption in the U.S., says Roger Bedard, ocean energy leader at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Palo Alto, CA. He adds that the total water resource could, it is sometimes said, possibly power the world twice over, but a lot of it is out of reach. “Hudson’s Bay, off the Arctic Circle, has HUGE tidal power, but it is thousands of miles from where anyone lives. We have HUGE wave resources off Aleutian Islands, but the same problem,” he says.  See EPRI’s U.S. Offshore Wave Energy Resource Map, below.

What will be the “magic” year for large-scale ocean energy deployment? Most developers indicate 2011-2012. Trey Taylor, co-founder and president of Verdant Power, which is moving into the commercial development phase of its 7-year-old Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project, says the firm aims to have “at least 35 MW” in the water by the end of 2011.

Bedard is more circumspect. “I think it will be 2015 in Europe and 2025 in U.S. for big deployment,” he says, adding that the year cited depends entirely on the definition of “big” and “commercial,” which he defines as “many tens of megawatts.”

Verdant’s Taylor expects greater initial success in Canada. “The fundamental difference between Canada and the U.S. is that the underpinning of processes in Canada is collaborative and in the U.S. it is adversarial. It’s just the nature of Canadians, collaborating for community good, whereas in the U.S. people are afraid of being sued,” he said.

Bedard says the U.S. could catch up to Europe earlier, if the Obama Administration walks its big renewable energy infrastructure investment talk. “But if it’s business as usual, it could be later, depending on the economy,” he says.

Since the global economy began to melt down last September, many ocean energy companies have had to refocus their investment plans. With venture capital and institutional monies drying or dried up, firms are turning to public funds, strategic partners such as utilities and big engineering firms, and angel investors.

In November, MCT retained London-based Cavendish Corp Finance to seek new financing. Raymond Fagan, the Cavendish partner charged with MCT, said although tidal energy is not as advanced as wind or solar, he has seen a “strong level of interest so far from large engineering-type firms in MCT’s leading position.” Because MCT holds patents and is delivering power to the grid ahead of its competitors, Fagan thinks Cavendish can bring it together with such strategic partners.

In addition to the economic climate, he notes that the drop in oil and gas prices is further slowing renewable energy investment decisions. “Six to 12 months ago, people were leaping into renewable energy opportunities,” he says, adding that the UK government’s recent call for marine energy proposals for the enormous Pentland Firth zone north of Scotland will improve Cavendish’s chances of getting financing. Though it has yet to make a public announcement, MCT is widely viewed as a prime operator for the zone.

Monies are still available. Witness Pelamis Wave Power’s infusion of 5 million pounds sterling in November, which it says it will use for ongoing investment in core R&D and continuing development of its manufacturing processes and facilities.

In the U.S., permitting may be an even bigger hurdle to marine energy deployment than financing. Between 25 and 35 different U.S. federal, state and local regulatory agencies claim some jurisdiction over marine power deployment. In the UK, two agencies handle permitting. Bedard notes however, that streamlining the process in the U.S. may have begun with the recent opening of a new six-month process for licensing pilot marine energy plants.

Marine energy experts agree that there are more opportunities for wave power than for tidal, as there are simply fewer exploitable tidal sites. In technology terms, however, tidal turbines have benefited from a quarter century of wind turbine development, says Virginia Tech professor George Hagerman. Despite more widely available wave resource, wave energy developers face the challenge of needing many more devices than do tidal energy developers, and have a higher cabling cost to export the power.

As Christopher Barry, co-chair of the Ocean Renewable Energy panel at the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, explains: “The major challenge [to ocean energy] is not pure technology, but the side issues of power export and making the technology affordable and survivable.”

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TYLER HAMILTON, CleanBreak.ca, February 17, 2009

humpback_finToronto-based WhalePower, maker of the tubercle-lined turbine blades inspired by humpback whale flippers, got the results back from its first independent study in the field. 

The blade design was tested on a 25-kilowatt Wenvor Technologies turbine at the Wind Energy Institute of Canada. The institude found that annualized energy production from the retrofitted blade increased by an estimated 20%.

You can find the data here and analysis here. “Rated power was attained at 12.5 metres per second versus the 15 meters per second previously published performance for the unmodified Wenvor turbine. (Caveat: it’s an estimate because the test of the retrofitted blade followed International Electro-Technical Commission standards, while the benchmark data did not).

“An improvement of just 1% or 2% in AEP is significant,” said Stephen Dewar, WhalePower’s director of R&D. “Here we have about 20% with low noise. We’re thrilled by this result.”

The next step is to perform a more comprehensive apples-to-apples test on a larger turbine. These results may help the company raise the capital it needs to take its testing to the next level. Perhaps at some point it will begin catching the attention of some of the bigger wind-energy players.

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Publisher’s Note:  Feb 09, 2009 – Not only has Finavera surrendered their Makah Bay license noted below, they also announced surrendering the Humboldt County, California Preliminary Permit to explore wave energy:

“Finavera Renewables has filed applications to surrender its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for the Makah Bay Wave Energy Pilot Project in Washington and the Humboldt County Preliminary Permit for a proposed wave energy project in California.”

MendoCoastCurrent readers may recall Finavera’s inability to secure CPUC funding for the Humboldt project; noted below capitalization, financial climate as key reasons in these actions.

MendoCoastCurrent, February 6, 2009

finavera-wavepark-graphicToday Finavera Renewables surrendered their Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Makah Bay, Washington wave energy project license, commenting that the Makah Bay Finavera project “never emerged from the planning stages.”

And “due to the current economic climate and the restrictions on capital necessary to continue development of this early-stage experimental Project, the Project has become uneconomic.  Efforts by Finavera to transfer the license were not successful.  Therefore, Finavera respectfully requests that the <FERC> Commission allow it to surrender its license for the Project. ”

Back in early 2007, Finavera’s Makah Bay project looked like it would become the first U.S. and west coast project deployment of wave energy devices.  And this project also had a unique status based on Native American Indian land/coastal waters, so the rules of FERC, MMS were different due to sovereign status.

Then AquaBuoy, Finavera’s premier wave energy device, sank off the Oregon coast due to a bilge pump failure in late October 2007.  

Recently noted was Finavera’s comment that they are currently focusing their renewable energy efforts toward wind energy projects closer to their homebase in British Columbia, Canada and in Ireland.

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MendoCoastCurrent, January 23, 2009

Marine Current Turbines Ltd, the Bristol based UK tidal energy company, in now in partnership Canada’s Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Ltd to demonstrate and develop tidal power technology and facilities in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company Limited (MBPP) of Hantsport, Nova Scotia is a leading sustainable energy and resources company.

Working in partnership with MBPP, Marine Current Turbines (MCT) will participate in the tidal power demonstration centre established by the Province of Nova Scotia. MBPP and MCT intend to deploy a 1.5MW tidal generator when the in-stream tidal energy centre enters full operation and is connected to the Nova Scotia grid. 

MCT installed the world’s first offshore tidal current device in 2003 off the south west coast of England (the 300kW SeaFlow) and during 2008, it installed and commissioned its 1.2MW SeaGen commercial prototype tidal current turbine in Strangford Narrows in Northern Ireland. SeaGen generated at its full output of 1.2MW onto the local grid in December 2008, becoming the most powerful marine energy device in the world. It has the capacity to generate power for approximately 1,000 homes. 

Notes on the SeaGen Technology from MCT: SeaGen works by generating power from sea currents, using a pair of axial flow turbines driving generators through gearboxes using similar principles to wind generator technology. The main difference is that the high density of seawater compared to wind allows a much smaller system; SeaGen has twin 600kW turbines each of 16m diameter. The capture of kinetic energy from a water current, much like with wind energy or solar energy, depends on how many square meters of flow cross-section can be addressed by the system. With water current turbines it is rotor swept area that dictates energy capture capability, because it is the cross section of flow that is intercepted which matters. SeaGen has over 400 square meters of rotor area which is why it can develop its full rated power of 1.2MW in a flow of 2.4m/s (5 knots).

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LARRY ROHTER, The New York Times, August 5, 2008

Senator Barack Obama altered his position on Monday to call for tapping the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gasoline prices as he outlined an energy plan that contrasts with Senator John McCain’s greater emphasis on expanded offshore drilling and coal and nuclear technology.

In a speech here and in a new advertisement, Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, also sought to portray his Republican rival, Mr. McCain, as “in the pocket” of oil giants that are profiting from gasoline priced at more than $4 a gallon. And in his speech, Mr. Obama called for a windfall profits tax on oil companies to finance rebates for Americans.

At the heart of Mr. Obama’s proposals is a focus on fostering alternative energy development by investing $150 billion in emerging technologies and renewable fuels. Seeking to put a million fuel-efficient hybrid plug-in automobiles on the road, he said that he would offer a $7,000 tax credit to buyers, the overall cost of which he did not specify. In addition, Mr. Obama said his goal was to have 10 percent of the country’s energy needs met by renewable resources by the end of his first term, more than double the current figure.

While focusing on alternative energy production, Mr. Obama has veered in recent days toward increasing access to fossil fuels, both in seeking to tap the strategic oil reserve and in softening his opposition to offshore oil drilling. He said he might be willing to accept some exploration of limited offshore drilling as part of a more comprehensive energy bill that would include things he favors, like renewable fuels and batteries for electric-powered cars.

The proposals Mr. Obama offered Monday represented an effort to return the campaign’s focus to bread-and-butter issues after he found himself repeatedly on the defensive last week against a newly aggressive McCain campaign.

“We should sell 70 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for less expensive crude, which in the past has lowered gas prices within two weeks,” Mr. Obama said. “Over the next five years, we should also lease more of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for oil and gas production, and we should also tap more of our substantial natural gas reserves and work with the Canadian government to finally build the Alaska natural gas pipeline, delivering clean natural gas.”

Mr. McCain and his campaign have been increasingly tweaking Mr. Obama and his energy policy. The McCain campaign distributed tire pressure gauges outside the event here in response to Mr. Obama’s statement last week that Americans could reduce gasoline use substantially if they kept car tires at optimum pressure. Mr. McCain has called Mr. Obama “Dr. No” and said that his energy policy could be reduced to the phrase “just say no” to proposals to increase energy production.

“We have to drill here and drill now,” Mr. McCain said Monday in Lafayette Hill, Pa. “Not wait and see if there’s areas to explore, not wait and see if there’s a package to put together. But drill here and drill now.”

Mr. McCain has focused much more on the supply side of the energy equation, supporting increased reliance on nuclear power, the use of so-called clean coal technology and expanded offshore drilling. But he has called for halting purchases to replenish the strategic oil reserve, rather than tapping into it.

Aides to Mr. Obama said that he now favored releasing light oil from that emergency stockpile, 707 million barrels stored in salt caverns, and replacing it with heavier oil, which they said would be more appropriate for the country’s long-term energy needs. They described that action — meant to help drive down oil prices, which have begun falling in the last month after a long, sharp increase — as a “limited swap” rather than a depletion of the reserve.

Mr. Obama said that through a mixture of investment, discipline and more restrained consumption it would be possible to completely eliminate oil imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 years. Through a combination of similar measures, he said, Americans could at the same time reduce electricity consumption by 15% and create 5 million jobs.

“I will not pretend we can achieve them without cost, or without sacrifice, or without the contribution of almost every American citizen,” Mr. Obama said of his objectives. “But I will say that these goals are possible, and I will say that achieving them is absolutely necessary if we want to keep America safe and prosperous in the 21st century.”

Repeating his call for a windfall profits tax on companies like Exxon-Mobil, which he singled out in his speech on Monday, Mr. Obama said he would use part of the tax to provide consumers with an “emergency energy rebate” of $1,000 per family.

Mr. Obama and his campaign have criticized Mr. McCain for accepting what they call excessive campaign donations from energy interests. Campaign Money Watch, a watchdog organization, said the McCain campaign received a burst of donations in June from oil company employees after he came out in favor of offshore drilling. Together, Hess employees or their relatives contributed more than $300,000 in June to Mr. McCain’s joint fund-raising committee with the Republican National Committee, according to campaign finance records.

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, said officials had examined the donations and found nothing untoward.

Mr. Obama offered details of his energy plan as Democrats have been under continuing pressure to allow offshore drilling. Though Congress is in its August break, a band of Republicans occupied the darkened House floor Monday to criticize the Democratic leadership for refusing to allow a vote on lifting a ban on drilling off much of the nation’s coastline before heading out of town.

About 25 lawmakers, many from the most conservative wing of the Republican Party, railed throughout the day at Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, saying her “San Francisco mentality” was impeding domestic energy production.

Republicans circulated a petition to urge Ms. Pelosi to call the House back into session, and some called for President Bush, who was on his way to China for the Olympics, to demand that Congress return. The White House said Monday that such a step was unlikely.

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MendoCoastCurrent, July 27, 2008

Finavera Renewables CEO Jason Bak provides this overview of 2008 activities to date and an outlook for the remainder of the year.

“The first half of 2008 has been an exciting period for Finavera Renewables,” commented CEO Jason Bak. “Our strategy [in] wind projects is to develop an approximate one gigawatt pipeline with partners that can provide balance sheet strength. Our plan is to maintain majority ownership interests that will provide us with revenues. We have seen significant interest in our British Columbia and Ireland wind projects and we are confident we’ll be able to enter into development agreements with partners that will not result in undue shareholder dilution. We will be focusing our efforts and resources on our most valuable assets in order to demonstrate their value to the market and move them towards production.”

Finavera Renewables’ wind projects have been the focus of much activity in the first half of 2008. Aggressively pursuing partners for projects in British Columbia, Canada and in Ireland. After assessing a number of various partners, a proposal letter has been executed from a potential investor for the equity financing of four projects in British Columbia to be bid into the upcoming BC Hydro Clean Power Call. In addition, in Ireland, preliminary discussions have identified a potential project partner following a detailed review of groups expressing an interest in the project pipeline. The strategy for all of these projects is to maintain a significant ownership interest in the projects in order to provide a revenue stream.

Progress is also being made in the ocean energy division. The planned development of the next generation of its wave energy converter, the AquaBuOY 3.0, is continuing in order to improve the power output and economics of the device. This includes an analysis of advanced composite materials in the manufacturing of the device and discussions with potential technology development partners in an effort to enhance the core hose pump technology. This continued technology development builds on significant progress in wave energy projects including the signing of North America’s first commercial power purchase agreement for a 2 MW wave energy project in California with Pacific Gas & Electric.

Highlights of selected Finavera projects and milestones for 2008:

Wind Project Updates

British Columbia, Canada

Discussions with a potential corporate investor, receiving non-binding indicative financing proposal, in connection with four wind projects currently being developed in the Peace Region of British Columbia, Canada. The proposal contemplates the investor would invest 100% of the equity requirements for each of the four projects awarded an electricity purchase agreement by BC Hydro pursuant to the BC Hydro Clean Power Call. Specific details of the proposal, including the name of the proponent, will be released on signing of a definitive agreement, yet expects to the agreement in place well in advance of the Clean Power Call bid submission deadline November 2008. Finavera is working to prepare bids for the call, and is confident in its ability to secure a contract from the call. Also continuing is the greenfield development of its other permitted areas in the Cascade Mountains area of south central British Columbia, and soon expects to install meteorological monitoring towers on those sites.

Alberta, Canada

Continuing to evaluate development options in order to extract the maximum value from the 75MW Ghost Pine wind project. All of the significant environmental field work has been completed on the project which is located approximately 150km northeast of Calgary. The field work included wildlife, vegetation and land use studies, historical resource investigations and approvals, avian and raptor surveys, and preliminary geotechnical surveys. The project’s final detailed design is close to conclusion. Permitting and interconnection provisions are in place to allow for construction and wind turbine erection would take place in 2009 with a targeted in-service date of December 2009. Wind resource assessment is underway for the nearby 75MW Lone Pine wind project, intending to make an interconnection application for this second Alberta project soon.

Cloosh Valley, Ireland

Discussions are ongoing with a potential partner in order to development prospects for the 105 MW Cloosh Valley wind project. The project has received planning permission for meteorological tower installation for wind data collection from Galway County Council. As well, an application for interconnection has been submitted to Eirgrid, the independent electricity transmission system operator in Ireland, and grid queue position has been established. The next stages of development include the submission of an application for planning permission to An Bord Pleanala, the Irish federal planning authority, under newly established streamlined guidelines for strategic infrastructure projects.

Ocean Energy Updates

Development continues on the next generation AquaBuOY 3.0 design in order to reduce the levelized cost of electricity production and move the technology towards commercialization. Now undertaking an advanced composite materials analysis to lower the construction cost of the device and provide a stronger, lighter housing for the core hose pump technology. Finavera is also in discussion with potential technology development partners in an effort to enhance the hose pump technology and acquire or develop additional IP related to the hose pump technology. The next state of the AquaBuOY design phase will build on the information gathered from the deployment of the prototype AquaBuOY 2.0 technology off the coast of Oregon in 2007. The mathematical and power output modeling was verified during the test phase. The exact timing of future deployments and specific development milestones will be released as research and development objectives are met.

Narrowing its project development focus to the West Coast of North America and South Africa to direct resources to the most valuable project assets. This enhanced focus will help provide clean, renewable and cost effective electricity by 2012 from the project in Humboldt County, California. A long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) has been signed with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for 2 MW wave energy project off the coast of California. This is the first commercial PPA for a wave energy project in North America.

“The second half of 2008 presents a tremendous opportunity for Finavera Renewables as we are poised to complete a number initiatives undertaken during the first half of the year. Our plan is to focus our efforts and resources on our highest value assets while investigating additional partnerships and joint ventures in the renewable energy sector,” said Jason Bak, CEO.

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GLOBE-Net News, July 7, 2008

Vancouver – Last month environment ministers of Canada, Mexico and the United States, acting as the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), issued a communiqué following its annual meeting stressing the importance of tri-lateral cooperation in pursuing market-based solutions to improve environmental performance in North America. But a number of cross-border environment-related issues are beginning to strain the once collaborative relationship between Canada and the US on such matters.

Noting that 2008 marked the fifteenth year of collaborative work under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), the environmental side accord to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the ministers stressed the importance of raising environmental standards across all three countries and in promoting the effective enforcement of environmental law.

Recent accomplishments cited included conservation action plans to support the migration of the monarch butterfly and Mexico’s efforts to protect the Vaquita porpoise. Joint efforts to eliminate the production and use in North America of dangerous chemicals such as DDT, chlordane, PCBs, mercury and, most recently, lindane, were also noted.

Cautiously worded acknowledgement was given to the environmental risks associated with increased trade and that close cooperation was essential to protect the North American public and environment. To this end a Green Suppliers Partnership to span the North American auto sector was announced and the CEC Secretariat was charged to prepare a comprehensive report on the opportunities and challenges for Green Building in North America.

A Changed North America

A key point noted in the CEC communiqué was that North America today is considerably different than when the three countries first entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement. In particular, the relationships between Canada and its southern neighbour appear to be undergoing significant changes.

After decades of cooperation on either side of the border, battles over environmental issues are becoming increasingly common and increasingly contentious. For example, DTE Energy’s power plants along the St. Clair River are generating more than electricity. They are also producing mercury emissions which are affecting the health of Canadians.

A trial date has been set by a Canadian Court in Sarnia to hear a lawsuit claiming DTE Energy is violating Canadian environmental law. DTE officials appeared in a Canadian court July 7 to answer charges concerning how its plants’ mercury emissions have affected Canada’s waters and soils downstream.

A water diversion project in North Dakota was stopped after the province of Manitoba challenged it in U.S. District Court on the basis it would lead to invasive species making their way into Canadian waters — specifically Lake Winnipeg and the Hudson Bay.

Canadian smelting company Teck Cominco is facing a massive clean up bill for slag previously dumped into the Columbia River several miles upstream from the border. In addition, the zinc and lead refining plant is a large discharger of mercury. A U.S. Supreme Court denied the company’s appeal of a lower court ruling that said it was responsible for cleaning up the river. In rejecting Teck’s request for review, the Court let stand the federal appeals court decision that the Canadian company must comply with U.S. laws that hold polluters accountable for the contamination they create within the United States.

What these cases demonstrate is that under the right circumstances, local environmental laws can be used against a foreign company for actions occurring within a foreign jurisdiction. If this becomes a trend, the result may have a significant impact on international business relationships and the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

As noted in an article by Dennis E. Mahony and Tyson Dyck of Torys LLP, Canada and the United States have historically resolved cross-border environmental conflicts through diplomacy, resulting in international treaties and, occasionally, international arbitration on consent by both governments.

Both countries are parties to several bilateral agreements covering a range of environmental issues, from migratory birds to waste management. One of the most notable is the Boundary Waters Treaty (BWT), signed in 1909 and which gives the two countries principles and mechanisms for resolving and preventing disputes regarding the use of waters along their shared border. For decades disputes have been resolved through agencies such as the International Joint Commission or the Center for Environmental Cooperation.

And though the principle of territoriality has been entrenched in modern international law for decades, today it is facing significant challenges from cross-border environmental issues. Indeed, in light of the recent chill in Canada-U.S. relations and the growing extraterritorial reach of U.S. environmental laws, many Canadians are likely to turn to suits filed under extraterritorial environmental statutes as a means of addressing pollution that causes cross-border harm.

Some have suggested that the reluctance of the Bush administration to crackdown on mercury emitters (in the case of the DTE Case) prompted some complainants to resort to the courts for action.

“The Bush administration has been less interested in solving trans-boundary issues through diplomacy and bilateral cooperation than previous administrations,” said Noah Hall, an international law expert at Wayne State University in an article published recently by the Detroit News. “They haven’t taken the diplomatic bilateral approach, and people have been left with no other option than to go to court.”

If more private parties seek to pursue citizen suits provisions to address cross-border environmental issues that governments have failed to resolve, an increase in extraterritorial claims can be expected, which in turn could disrupt diplomatic and business relations between Canada and the United States, and lead to the confused application of environmental laws.

As noted by Mahony and Dyck, for businesses, the extraterritorial application of environmental laws on their operations, though not inherently negative, could negative repercussions, when private parties choose when and where to pursue this application. The resulting uncertainty over applicable regulatory standards can confound the environmental management of businesses with obvious cross-border impacts.

Cross border tensions at a much higher level have become more evident during the political drama unfolding in the United States, where big-city U.S. mayors and Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama were sharply critical of dirty” Alberta oil. Canadian officials believe the most U.S. lawmakers – even self-proclaimed environmentalists in the Democratic Party – ultimately are pragmatists who will eventually dump the “special” interest rhetoric so important during the presidential campaign.

The Issues Run Deep

But the issues at stake are far deeper than politics on the campaign trail. In the post 9-11 world, there is an even greater need for Canada and the United States to come together to resolve environmental issues of common interest. We share common eco-systems just as we share common economic issues and priorities. And with the growing impacts of climate change and global warming, those common environmental and economic concerns will become more blended and more and more dependent upon proactive and cooperative relationship building.

These include: reducing particulate matter emissions and instituting better air quality management in border areas; preventing the contamination of trans-boundary waters; resolving competing territorial claims in the high Arctic; ensuring the safety of shipping in coastal waters (particularly for bulk carriers of hydrocarbons); cleaning up still polluted estuaries, rivers and waters in the Great Lakes system, and coming to terms with regard to bulk water diversions; resolving irritants with respect to the trans-boundary movements of trash and hazardous wastes; reaching an accord with respect to energy flows (not the least of which concerns exports of oil from the Alberta oil sands) … the list goes on and on.

As noted these issues have high economic impacts as well significant environmental consequences. And from the point of view of the business community, there clearly is a benefit from further regulatory integration or, at least, common rules on the applicability of environmental laws. Business does not like uncertainty.

While one might wish for a broad national consensus on key Canadian-American environmental issues, in the absence of such, there is emerging a trend toward bilateral cooperation at the state-province level, and even at the city-to-city level. Interactions between State of Michigan lawmakers, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and City of Toronto officials were instrumental in resolving the municipal solid waste dispute that threatened to halt waste shipments to Michigan by 2010. The province of British Columbia has embarked on a wide ranging process of engagement with neighbouring states in the US on climate change, carbon trading and environmental enforcement issues of common concern.

There are many other examples on cooperation at the sub-national level which, while helpful and pragmatic, do not obviate the need for a more focused and deliberate effort in the national arena to forge more constructive relationships on environmental matters.

Where to now?

When the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC), was created it was thought it would bring a new era of tri-lateralism in an more intense and permanent way to North American and to Canada-U.S. environmental governance. If anything, the Canadian-American bilateral environmental relationship has gone through something of a “rough patch” over the past few years.

Leaving aside the much publicized political slights in recent months, it would be wrong to assume that our common values and the operational necessities of dealing with pressing trans-boundary pollution problems will overcome any disputes.

The need for an integrated North American approach on environment and economic issues that straddles political boundaries and cross-border relationships is needed, but it won’t just happen by itself.

Whoever takes over the Oval Office after President Bush heads back to Texas will have to be engaged as a matter of priority on Canada-US environmental relations. Establishing a level of rapport between the two individual leaders is essential to overcome policy and political differences that prolong uncertainty and foster cross border litigation.

And while the three environment ministers of the CEC have reaffirmed a commitment to continue to work together on key North American environmental challenges, the agenda will have to be more meaningful that protecting the Monarch butterflies and the Vaquita porpoise.

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MATT HOME, The Vancouver Sun, June 3, 2008

Just as British Columbia passes the first carbon tax in Canada into law, a new poll by McAllister Opinion Research has revealed that more than 70% of Canadians support British Columbia’s carbon tax as a “positive step” towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A separate poll by Harris/Decima published in The Vancouver Sun last week found that 75% of British Columbians are prepared to significantly alter their behaviour to fight global warming, and 73% believe more government regulation will be necessary to help them do that.

It’s not often a province receives praise for introducing new taxes, but these recent polls confirm that Canadians, and British Columbians in particular, understand the global importance of the climate change issue and want governments to take action.

The provincial government has become a leader on global warming with a carbon tax that is one of the most comprehensive in the world (covering virtually all fossil fuels), and the first in North America to focus directly on reducing greenhouse gas pollution by changing the decisions made by businesses and consumers. The ground-breaking tax is changing the level of debate on carbon taxes in the rest of the country.

The government’s next challenge is to ensure the tax improves over time to significantly reduce future emissions.

The price on greenhouse gases needs to reach at least $75 per tonne by 2020 to reduce national greenhouse gas pollution to 1990 levels, according to the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy. B.C. is committed to reducing its greenhouse gases to 10% below 1990 levels.

Victoria has said the carbon tax will start at $10 per tonne and rise to $30 per tonne by 2012, but has yet to commit to future increases in the tax that will be needed to reach its emission targets.

To ensure the province is on a path to meeting its emissions targets, the government needs to provide a schedule for incremental increases in the carbon tax beyond 2012 .

This schedule should be laid out clearly for British Columbians as soon as possible to help people make good decisions on purchases that will be affected by the carbon tax, such as cars or homes.

For the tax to be effective, the government also needs to make sufficient investments to ensure that there are solutions available to help all British Columbians decrease energy consumption and emissions. The government has already taken steps in this direction with announced increases in public transit investment and new funding for home energy retrofits.

Low-income families will need additional support. While the proposed low income tax credit is a good start and should continue, the focus must be on helping low-income households reduce their energy bills. Examples include creative programs like Warm Front in the U.K., which will spend $1.5 billion to retrofit the homes of 400,000 low-income families between 2008 and 2011.

And finally, the government must aim to include all sources of emissions under a carbon pricing system. The one-third of industrial emissions not covered by the carbon tax could be included in B.C.’s cap and trade system, which is currently being designed. However, if the province’s future cap and trade system does not include these sources, they must be included under the carbon tax — or industry will be given a free ride.

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GLOBE-NET NEWS, May 29, 2008

The Ontario government and the Ontario Power Authority have made significant changes to the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP). Questions remain whether this Is simply a mid-course correction to help make room for smaller projects or whether the Ontario government has completely changed the rules of the game. Either way, the move could potentially hurt several renewable energy projects being developed in the province?

Ontario’s RESOP is similar in many respects to successful European programs. But it was for a time the only one of its kind in North America. RESOP encourages projects of 10 megawatts (MW) or less with no limit to the number of projects that may apply for a contract. This allowed companies to develop projects that when combined exceeded the 10 MW ceiling.

In a mid-May conference call, the Ontario Power Authority announced it was now limiting the size of projects that qualify. Companies now can channel no more than 10 MW through any transformer station, and have no more than 50 MW capacity under development at any time.

According to the Ontario government, the previous RESOP was allowing large firms to crowd out smaller firms. The change is meant to force large firms to shift to another program, which requires them to bid to sell renewable electricity, said Ontario Power Authority spokesperson Tim Taylor.

As a result of the decision, large renewable energy projects have lost access to the feed-in tariff offered by RESOP, which many see as the key to implementing projects. The Program pays an incentive or a “feed in tariff” of 42 cents per kilowatt (kW) hour of solar power produced in order to create a diversified and sustainable supply energy mix for Ontarians.

The Standard-Offer Program was always intended for smaller producers, Taylor said. “We want the big solar and wind boys to play in the large sandbox and leave the smaller sandbox for the smaller guys.”

As a result of the decision, large renewable energy projects have lost access to the feed-in tariff offered by RESOP, which many see as the key to implementing projects. The Program pays an incentive or a “feed in tariff” of 42 cents per kW hour of solar power produced in order to create a diversified and sustainable supply energy mix for Ontarians.

Those within the renewable energy sector believe taking such action without warning the industry – and the companies who had invested heavily in various projects – may put the industry in jeopardy. According to industry spokespersons, the only reason Ontario exceeded its target of 1,300 MW of renewable energy developed in one year, was because larger projects were getting through the Program.

“The province was just starting to go places, attracting significant interest from both Canadian and international investors,” said Elizabeth McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA). “The expansion of this market was promising to translate into a new clean economy, green collar jobs, and as well as generate growth in areas of the province in need of economic stimulus. Now the provincial government has decided to put everything on hold. You cannot build an industry in this sort of uncertain environment.”

A feed-in tariff is employed to subsidize the cost difference between renewable energy rates and conventional energy rates. The intent is to bring the cost of renewable energy on par with conventional energy thus making renewable energy more palatable to utility companies.

Studies have shown that feed-in tariffs have spurred innovation and increased interest and investment in renewable energy around the world. For example, power from eligible forms of renewable generation under Germany’s feed-in law more than doubled between 2000 and 2004, from 14 TWh to 37 TWh. In several countries, feed-in policies have had the largest effect on wind power, but have also influenced biomass and small hydro development.

Now it is expected companies will have to offer prices below the standard-offer level. The solar industry will be hit especially hard because, with its far higher capital costs, it can’t compete in the bidding process, according to CanSIA.

Members of Ontario’s renewable energy industry are now feeling unprepared on how to move forward. The kind of competition suggested by the province hasn’t been held since 2005. Apart from the three-year gap, preparing bids costs millions, CanSIA argues.

Projects approved before the announcement can continue but some companies have been left in limbo. For example, the 50-MW limit means one of the largest solar developers, OptiSolar Farms Canada, with 60 MW underway near Sarnia, can’t start other planned projects, said spokesperson Peter Carrie.

“This will send people to other jurisdictions and other places,” said McDonald.

After allowing RESOP to function in this manner for three years, it seems likely to those within the industry that the government of Ontario has pulled an about face regarding the program.

CanSIA has offered to work with the Ontario government in partnership to bring the program back on track immediately to ensure longevity and stability to the industry, its investors and the workforce it employs. According to CanSIA, polling indicates Ontarians want to “go green” and be the leaders in deploying a renewable energy strategy for Canada. The RESOP is an important part of that.

“To begin, we ask that the Ontario Government immediately reinstate the program so the industry can continue to build, while we figure out how the entire renewable energy industry can move ahead,” said McDonald.

“At the moment, we risk losing millions of dollars and hundreds of large and small scale solar projects, which were just starting to get off the ground. We can assure the Government that CanSIA will support measures that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program.”

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DOUG WILLIAMSON, The Windsor Star, May 8, 2008

The prospect of wind energy development in Essex County received mixed reviews Wednesday during a public meeting to hear comments on the county’s proposed policy for commercial wind farms.

Visual and noise impact, whether or not wind energy is a viable solution to global warming and other issues dominated the session attended by about 300 people, as well as county councillors.

Amherstburg lawyer Anthony Leardi warned that wind turbine developments are not public utilities, and if they go bankrupt the cost of decommissioning them could be borne by the municipality.

“In that case you will be left with these turbines,” he said. Leardi said turbines should be prohibited in favour of other forms of renewable energy, but if they are approved, there should be conditions such as a height limit of 100 feet.

“It is based on the topography of this county,” Leardi said. “One hundred feet may actually be dangerous.”

Joy Purdy of Harrow cited possible adverse environmental effects of the proposed turbines.

‘NO ADVERSE EFFECTS’

But Raymond Duhamel of Jones Consulting, which is working with the county on the proposed wind energy policy, said policy-makers are trying to avoid those.

“We hope these policies will ensure there are no adverse effects,” he said.

Colette McLean of Harrow questioned whether wind energy really can have an impact on global warming, and said the turbines are “the definition of adverse effects. It affects all of us as taxpayers.”

Joe Ouellette of Amherstbug questioned the impact of turbine electricity generation on microwave transmission and airport radar, and said companies should be notified in advance of plans for wind turbines.

“Essex County must adopt a comprehensive policy,” he said. “If a link (from turbine generation to microwave transmission) is found … I do believe notification should be given to the company.”

One of the few speakers to totally support the wind turbines was Ted Gorski, a Harrow farmer and businessman.

“We live in some very challenging times,” he said, citing global energy concerns. “I am in favour of wind farms. Renewable energy is a must. If we don’t act we won’t be able to afford it.”

Duhamel said the county has to consider several factors in developing a wind energy policy, including natural resources and “cultural” assets such as winery routes. He also acknowledged the subject is controversial.

“This issue has become very divisive wherever I go.”

Bob Sylvester, deputy mayor of Lakeshore, warned that the new energy production may have infrastructure problems.

“The most unappealing parts of wind farms was the transmission lines,” he said of his own tours of wind energy sites in the province.

County council is to deal with it renewable energy policy on May 21.

Thank you National Wind Watch for this post!

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MARK CARDWELL, The Gazette, May 7, 2008

The smallest of the 15 wind-farm bids accepted by Hydro-Québec on Monday could end up generating more political current than all of the other projects combined.

A French-backed energy consortium is proposing to build 37 wind towers on a mountain near Lac-au-Sable, a popular fishing, hunting and hiking spot for locals and tourists next to one of Quebec’s most popular provincial parks in the picturesque Charlevoix region east of Quebec City.

“No one here is in favour of it,” said Charles Roberge, who is president of the UNESCO-recognized Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve and head of a regional coalition against the Lac-au-Sable project.

The opposition includes everyone from the local chamber of commerce and the Tourisme Québec office to Nature Québec and the local regional government.

The Charlevoix reaction is an example of the social and political pitfalls that await the Quebec government as it pushes into the unchartered field of sustainable economic activity and energy development.

“Nearly everyone in Quebec is for green energy like wind power,” said Jean-Louis Chaumel, an economist at the Université du Québec à Rimouski and co-founder of the Wind Energy Group, an international body of French-language professors and graduate students that studies the impact of wind farms.

“But when you put wind parks in areas that are sensitive (because of) high population densities or natural beauty, you have the potential for multiple sources of social activism against them.”

Roberge puts it more bluntly: “Basically, it’s a stupid idea.

“We’re all for sustainable development,” he said. “But from what we’ve seen and heard, we’ll only be getting the bad sides of the green energy they hope to produce here.”

A primary concern is the environmental and aesthetic impacts the wind farm will have on a region that is famous for its breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence and the Laurentians, but Roberge and others are also angry about the process that led to Monday’s announcement.

“(The Quebec Liberal government) is making the same mistakes it did with Sûroit and Mont Orford, in that they are thrusting this thing on people too quickly,” he said, referring to government-sponsored projects that were stopped after the public reacted against them.

“We don’t know why, for example, this project is being given to a private company instead of Hydro-Québec. And if it has to be private, why isn’t a local company involved?”

Proposed to Hydro-Québec by St-Laurent Énergies, a Montreal-based consortium that is comprised of Hydromega Services, RES Canada and EDF Energies Nouvelles, which is a subsidiary of France’s EDF, the Lac-au-Sable or “Charlevoix-Est” wind farm is expected to generate 74 megawatts of wind power if and when it is completed by 2015.

That represents about 3.6 per cent of the total of 2,004 megawatts the 15 projects are expected to generate, and 7.7 per cent of the 954 megawatts allotted to St-Laurent Énergies, which emerged as the big bid winner on Monday.

According to the consortium’s project manager, Stéphane Boyer, more than half of the $2 billion needed to build the five sites will be spent in Quebec, including the manufacture of blades, towers and power converters.

He said the Lac-au-Sable site, located in a provincially-owned, 368-square-kilometre “Controlled Exploitation Zone,” is the perfect location for a wind farm.

“When you look at the map (and) all the criteria we look at — wind, accessibility to (existing Hydro-Québec power lines and grid), remoteness from people, the presence of intense forestry operations — it is an excellent place to produce electricity at a competitive cost,” he said.

Despite the consortium’s arguments, Roberge said locals are particularly worried that the wind farms will be visible from the Parc des Hautes-Gorges, a provincial park 12 kilometres away that attracts 100,000 people a year.

“In return we get what, a few temporary jobs?” he asked. “The profits all go elsewhere. There are very few economic benefits for our region.”

For his part, Boyer said consortium officials were “surprised and disappointed” by the Charlevoix coalition’s public attacks against their project.

“But I think we can sit down with and discuss their concerns, find some compromises,” he added. “I mean, we’ve got until 2015, so there’s lots of time.”

Compromise, suggested Chaumel, is indeed the key.

“The best way to go is to get social acceptance for a project beforehand,” he said, adding that the Quebec government has “put the cart before the horse” with the Charlevoix project.

“It’s clear there is no expertise yet in knowing how to arrange pertinent agreements in terms of social acceptance,” he said.

Part of the problem, he said, has been the Quebec government’s fear of getting in bed with promoters who can’t deliver what they promise — a fear that might have been partly allayed with the granting of several projects backed by a giant like ENF.

“The Quebec government has dramatically reduced the number of promoters it was dealing with (and) was clearly disappointed with,” said Chaumel, referring to a number of Quebec companies that failed to win contracts. “They wanted to work with companies that had solid experience and financing and could deliver projects in a pertinent, fast and clean manner. “They’ve done that by accepting baskets of projects from the best developers,” he added. “Now it’s up to those promoters, like the ones in Charlevoix, to sit down with the locals and figure things out (by) explaining things and maybe sharing benefits.

Thank you National Wind Watch for this post!

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TYLER HAMILTON, The Star, April 21, 2008

Ground will be broken today on the first of several massive solar farms expected to dot the Ontario landscape over the coming years, part of the government’s plan to add more renewable power to the province’s energy mix.

Joint venture partners SkyPower Corp. of Toronto and Baltimore-based SunEdison LLC say construction will begin this week on their First Light solar park, located near the town of Stone Mills about 30 kilometres west of Kingston.

The finished park, spreading across 300 acres of land and made up of more than 200,000 sunshine-catching solar panels, will provide enough power over a year to supply 2,000 homes.

SkyPower and SunEdison expect the 19-megawatt project to finish in late 2009, though the first 9 megawatts will likely be in place by the end of this year.

Six more projects from the joint venture are planned across southern Ontario, roughly equivalent to blanketing the entire downtown core of Toronto with solar panels.

“I think Ontario is setting an example for other provinces across Canada to follow,” said Kerry Adler, president and chief executive of SkyPower.

The companies are following through on 20-year contracts signed with the Ontario Power Authority under the province’s standard-offer program. The program pays 42 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced from a solar system, or roughly seven times the going rate for electricity from the grid.

The power authority has so far struck contracts for 407 megawatts of solar since the program was launched in 2006. At that time, the agency only envisioned about 88 megawatts ever getting built.

“The program has been quite remarkably successful when measured against expectations,” said Tim Taylor, spokesperson for the power authority. “Our hope is that all of them come to fruition, and it’s a wonderful signal to see the work beginning.”

Under program rules, no individual contract can exceed 10 megawatts. It’s for this reason First Light has been broken into two phases.

Brian Robertson, president of SunEdison, said the park is by far the largest in North America under construction, though he admits the bar is rising fast.

“It’s kind of like the world’s tallest building competition,” he said. “It’s tops for the first time until a bigger one comes along.”

That’s likely to happen next month, when OptiSolar Farms Canada begins building its enormous 60-megawatt “Sarnia Solar” park, which will be broken into six construction phases. Vice-president Peter Carrie said the first 10-megawatt phase is expected to be complete by year’s end. “We’ll build out the balance in 2009.”

OptiSolar has a total of 21 multi-megawatt solar projects on the drawing board and approved by the power authority. “This is the year the rubber hits the road for solar in Ontario,” said Carrie.

The company is using solar photovoltaic panels from its U.S. parent OptiSolar Inc., which is manufacturing the product out of facilities in California. SkyPower and SunEdison, meanwhile, plan to use solar panels from First Solar Inc. for the first phase of its project.

Deployment of projects is expected to be fast. After a site is cleared, levelled and fenced in, small teams begin assembling the steel and cement structures that hold the panels in place. Closely behind is a panel-mounting team, followed by an electrical team that connects the panels to the local distribution line.

Just how many of these multi-megawatt projects will get built is the subject of much debate, given the hundreds of millions of dollars in financial commitments involved. But both Carrie and Adler assure that their companies have every intention of following through.

Likewise, SunEdison said it’s committed to the Ontario market. “As a policy we don’t announce things we don’t intend to build,” said Robertson.

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TYLER, cleanbreak.com, February 20, 2008

The Canadian province of British Columbia announced yesterday hat it will introduce a carbon tax that will apply to nearly all fossil fuels sold in the province, including gasoline and home heating fuel. The tax will start at $10 (Canadian) per tonne of carbon emissions in 2008 and be increased by increments of $5 annually over the next few years until it reaches $30. The tax will be complemented by a carbon cap-and-trade system that will be introduced as part of B.C.’s alliance with several U.S states and Canadian provinces.

The province said the tax will be revenue-neutral. About $1.8 billion raised from the tax over the next three years will go toward personal income and business tax cuts. A $100 climate action dividend will also be given to citizens once a year, with the idea being that the money saved from income-tax cuts and returned through the dividend will go toward conservation and improving energy efficiency. Citizens will also get more tax breaks for purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles and appliances.

Now, I should point out that Quebec introduced a carbon tax last year, but the money collected from it goes back to the government and is eventually targeted at green technology initiatives. It’s not clear to me whether this approach is more effective or not. I like the idea of a revenue-neutral tax that benefits people who reduce their environmental footprint and penalizes those who increase it, but an income tax cut needs to come with some strings attached or at least some kind of program that encourages investment of those savings into energy efficiency and renewables.

What I like about B.C.’s approach — and Quebec’s before it — is that they’re ignoring the rhetoric coming out of our federal government that a carbon tax will hurt the economy. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper has consistently dismissed the idea of introducing a national carbon tax, and has warned against burdening business with a patchwork of provincial rules and carbon taxes.

The B.C. government’s response: “We made the decision to not wait for consensus.”

Consensus is the killer. Consensus is what the United Nations is about, and all the international climate meetings that lead to nothing. Consensus is a tool of delay. It’s nice to see a government realize that breaking away from the pursuit of consensus is what Canadians — and I venture to argue most Americans — truly want. B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said he won’t pressure other provinces to follow, but he hopes that B.C.’s move will demonstrate to others that it’s the right move and that it will create economic opportunities.

So do I. The fact is, a carbon tax is the quickest and most efficient way to influence change in the market. Cap-and-trade, while effective if designed properly, in my view should only be considered afterward as a complement. The problem with cap-and-trade is that it’s complicated and tends to reward lawyers, accountants and bureaucrats the most.

My only reservation about B.C.’s carbon tax? While it is expected to hit 70 per cent of all greenhouse gas emission sources in the province, the tax won’t immediately apply to industry and power producers, including oil/gas industry and cement makers. The province argues it needs more time to figure out a proper model. I think this is a mistake — if a government wants its citizens to accept a tax on personal consumption they have to show they’re equally ready to apply the same rules to industry.

That said, here’s hoping that the decision to impose carbon taxes in Quebec and now B.C. will infect other parts of the continent. Mr. McGuinty, now is the perfect time for Ontario to step up to the plate.

As for the feds, here’s hoping the White House and Parliament Hill wake up and realize this is real, and that now is the time to harmonize with the provinces and states that appear leap years ahead.

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KURT RENTMEESTER, Door County Advocate, February 20, 2008

The Forestville Town Board became the latest municipality to enact a one-year moratorium for large wind turbines – and questioned whether Door County’s recently approved wind energy ordinance should take effect there.

“We don’t want the county to impose its wind ordinance on us because we want more information on it,” Forestville Town Chairman Edson Stevens said Monday, Feb. 18, at the regular board meeting.

According to the moratorium, wind turbines exceeding 170 feet cannot be built for one year in the town of Forestville.

Two weeks ago, the Gardner Town Board approved a one-year interim control ordinance for wind turbines of at least 170 feet.

Last April, the Clay Banks Town Board established a similar one-year moratorium after Community Wind Energy LLC proposed three turbines be built there.

The town board there also established a five-member committee to study the issue and create a stricter local ordinance to supersede the county measure.

Stevens and Supervisor Gerald Uecker said they voted for a moratorium in the town of Forestville because they have questions about noise levels and setbacks in residential areas. Supervisor Marilyn Uecker was not at the meeting.

However, resident Monica Nelson questioned the town board’s decision, after the Door County Board of Supervisors approved a revised wind energy ordinance two weeks ago.

The county board’s revisions were based on a detailed and unbiased study of wind energy made by the Door County’s Resource Planning Committee, she said.

“The county spent a year studying this ordinance,” ehe said. “Where are you going to get your information from? Are you going to get information from Clay Banks?”

But Stevens said the moratorium also would give the town a “safety belt” and allow residents to learn more about the issue.

“If people in the town really want windmills – and after all, it’s what the people want – I don’t see anything in this (one-year moratorium) ordinance that would keep that from happening,” Supervisor Gerald Uecker said.

Forestville town treasurer Dena Schmidt said she doesn’t want to see the issue remain on hold for a year. If energy derived from wind turbines offers economic benefits and tax relief to property owners, she said, it should be investigated.

Nelson, who also heads the town’s Plan Commission, said that group’s input should have been sought on the issue before going to the town board.

Stevens said he wants to hold some public informational meetings on the matter. But he said the town board needed to address the issue before the county’s ordinance goes into effect.

In other business, the board tabled resident Todd Weckler’s request to set up two house trailers side by side and connect them with a 4-foot addition to establish a single residence on Mill Road.

The board tabled action until March when it will have more information on what Weckler plans to do there.

The town’s mobile home ordinance allows occupants to obtain a building permit for one mobile home per parcel, Town Clerk Ruth Kerscher said. But the board may make an exception in this case because the two trailers would serve as a single residence.

The house trailers are among six that are located in the former mobile home park in the village of Forestville. Forestville Village President Tom Tostrup asked Weckler to remove all of the trailers this spring.

All six house trailers would be brought to Weckler’s 5-acre parcel on Mill Road.

While two would be remodeled as a single residence, workers would dismantle the remaining four between May and September and dispose of that wood, metal and other building materials.

The board also will give Jason Jorns a class A alcohol license permitting him to sell enclosed wine and provide samples at his farmer’s market-type store near Maplewood.

Jorns will be giving out wine samples when he opens Maplewaupee Market in May along state Highway 42 in an area north of the community of Maplewood.

Customers would not be permitted to consume alcoholic beverages on premises of a business with a class A liquor license.

However, Kerscher said a state official told her samples of wine can be given.

If alcoholic beverages are consumed on-site, Kerscher said the proprietor would be required to obtain a class B license. The town’s two class B licenses are being used.

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VINCE VERSACE, Daily Commercial News, January 30, 2008

Lifting Ontario’s offshore wind farm moratorium is just what the wind farm industry needs to help promote further construction in this field, a West Coast-based offshore wind development firm says.

“What really needs to happen is that developers need to demonstrate that offshore wind can be part of the [energy] solution and at relatively competitive costs,” says Sara MacIntyre, public affairs and communications director for NaiKun Wind.

“Wind is a large and viable resource [and] the Ontario announcement is positive because it grows capacity to build [in it].”

Ontario constructors and project developers in the field have weighed in with varying opinions on the viability of building offshore wind projects in the Great Lakes. Some officials point cautiously to construction costs and logistics, which are currently unknown for building in the Great Lakes.

However, Trillium Power, which proposes a 140-turbine project near Prince Edward County, believes construction challenges can be overcome because local expertise exists to build construction capacity in this field.

NaiKun says that its team is ready to tackle construction of its project’s first phase located in Hecate Strait, between Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) and Prince Rupert. One of its construction directors has been involved in almost every offshore wind project in Europe, notes MacIntyre.

NaiKun also secured $35.5 million last year to help fund early development, which will allow it to purchase “early equity requirements” such as turbines and underwater transmission cables.

NaiKun is building in the Haida Energy Field which has some of the strongest, most consistent winds in Canada. NaiKun secured a 550-square-kilometre permit area where it plans to build the first phase of their wind project, a 320 megawatt offshore wind farm. MacIntyre estimates the wind turbines will occupy 36 sq. km. of the strait.

“The size of the turbines will really dictate how construction goes forward,” explains MacIntyre. “The logistics depend on the turbines — offshore turbines are larger than land-based ones.”

In September, 2007 NaiKun installed its $2.5 million marine meteorological station, designed to help measure and collect data on atmospheric conditions, wave and current climate, wind speed and direction and air and sea temperatures. These measurements are an important piece in determining the pre-engineering of the project and deciding on the best location for the wind turbines.

“We have not settled on a turbine supplier and there is the possibility to buy and manufacture the towers in B.C.,” says MacIntyre.

NaiKun has teamed with Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution to help in the development, construction and operation of the transmission system for the project’s first phase.

The project’s Environmental Terms of Reference were approved in late 2007 and it now is in the pre-application environmental assessment process with the province.

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