Surges swept away

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ABB wins $85m order China to sort out renewables Tesla to showcase solar roof without panels Davis-Besse reactor restarted, power nearly at 100% Karachi wind power plant ready by month-end
What’s claimed to be the world’s longest wind turbine blade was unveiled in Denmark last week. Production of the 88.4m blade was a joint project of Adwen and LM Wind Power. The blade has been designed for Adwen’s AD 8-180, a wind turbine with 8MW nominal capacity and 180 meter rotor diameter. “When you are building the largest wind turbine in the world, almost everything you do is an unprecedented challenge,” Luis Álvarez, Adwen general manager said. “We are going where no one else has ever gone before, pushing all the known frontiers in the industry.” The next step is to ship the gargantuan component to Aalborg, where it will undergo rigorous testing.


1000 Aussies hit
the skids with closure

Victoria’s dirtiest power station will shut down permanently as early as next April, in a blow to the Latrobe Valley that could cost up to 1000 jobs.

The owner of the Hazelwood plant, French energy giant Engie, is expected to hold a board meeting on October 19 or 20 to finalise a decision to close the aging brown coal-fired plant.

But Fairfax Media believes the company has already told the state government it is likely to close the plant, which supplies up to one-quarter of the state’s electricity, next year, potentially on April 1.

The Andrews government scrambled to respond to the news on Saturday morning, dispatching Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to Morwell to discuss a transition and future job opportunities with locals.

Gippsland lobby group Voices of the Valley is also holding a march in Traralgon today, calling for a “just transition“ from an economy fuelled by the coal-fired power station.

Previously, a staged shutdown had been considered, but orders from WorkSafe Victoria requiring new investment are understood to have all but convinced the company the plant is no longer viable, with environmental concerns also a factor.

The Andrews government has been working to come up with a structural adjustment package for the Latrobe Valley before the decision.

The valley is already one of the most disadvantaged parts of the state, with unemployment at 19.7% in Morwell and 14.6 per in Moe.

Hazelwood has about 550 direct employees and 300 contractors, with hundreds more jobs indirectly linked.

It has been estimated that 150 to 200 of these jobs could be retained cleaning up the site and rehabilitating the neighbouring open-cut coal mine.

Plans under consideration include filling the pit with water to create a lake for community use.

Greens federal MP Adam Bandt greeted the news with exuberance, calling a press conference to declare “the age of coal is over“.

“This good news is the start of Victoria’s energy transition, where dirty coal is replaced with clean renewable energy,“ he said.

But Mr Bandt added that successive governments “have been asleep at the wheel and now workers and communities in the Latrobe Valley will be left in the lurch unless we develop a support plan.“

Ms D’Ambrosio said she had called Engie’s senior management on Friday night seeking more information, but they gave her no indication that closure was imminent. Nor did they give her a time line for the possible shut down, she said.

“Let me be very clear - the response from senior management was that no decision has been made,“ she said. “But what is absolutely important here of course is to understand that our government is absolutely committed to working with the people of the Latrobe Valley, to plan ahead to ensure their future is a prosperous one, and is a future that is sustainable.“

Built between 1964 and 1971, Hazelwood has long been targeted by environment groups. It is responsible for up to 15% of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions and 3% of national emissions when fully operational.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the Latrobe Valley community could be assured that the government was “with them every step of the way“, although no decision had been made. “If the company decides to stop operating, we will do all we can to ensure those workers and their families get the support they need,“ she said.

CFMEU Victorian mining and energy president Trevor Williams said the union was expecting an announcement about Hazelwood next month, but was uncertain whether it would be an outright or gradual closure.

He called for a transition scheme that would allow older workers ready for retirement from Victoria’s coal stations and mines to take a package and younger workers to transfer to other companies to stay in the industry.

An Engie spokesman said no decision had been made, and otherwise declined to comment.

The state government has already announced $40 million to help the Latrobe Valley economy adjust, with sources flagging efforts to attract new industries to the area.

Analysts say the electricity market has more than enough generation capacity to cope with Hazelwood’s removal. In 2014, the Australian Energy Market Operator estimated there would be 7400 megawatts of surplus capacity.

Analysts have given wildly varying estimates of the impact of shutting Hazelwood on electricity prices, ranging from 0.2% to 25%.

Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham said retiring Hazelwood was the single largest step that could be taken to clean up Australia’s energy supply.

“Engie is at a fork in the road. Like all other major global electricity companies, it must choose clean energy as the world acts on climate change,“ he said.

The French company holds a 72% stake in the plant. The remainder is owned by Japanese company Mitsui.

Engie chief executive Isabelle Kocher said in May that the company was considering closing or selling Hazelwood, although no timeframe was suggested.

“For the Hazelwood plant, we are studying all possible scenarios, including closure, or a sale if the state of Victoria tells us that it cannot meet power generating needs without this plant,“ Ms Kocher reportedly said

The plant’s operators faced scrutiny over a coal mine fire that burned for more than a month in 2014, blanketing Morwell in smoke. An inquiry found it was likely pollution from the fire had contributed to deaths in the area.

Any decision to sell or close the plant will have implications for the national electricity market and is likely to be closely watched by the federal government. — By Josh Gordon and Adam Morton The Age 24/9/2016.

overseas stories

Apple can start reaping the fruits of its $850m Monterey County solar power investment. Federal energy regulators Thursday approved the firm's application to start selling electricity at market rates. Apple's solar power investments can generate 20MW of electricity in Nevada, 50MW in Arizona and 130MW in California. The latter output will come from Apple's $850m partnership with sun-farm company First Solar, at the California Flats solar project in southeast Monterey County. “It allows them to sell electricity into the wholesale markets and also use the wholesale markets as sort of a hedge,” said GTM Research analyst, Colin Smith. “If they're buying power at 10 cents per kilowatt hour and wholesale power prices happen to move up to 15 cents, they can actually sell power directly and pocket the difference. This turns them much more into an independent power producer and really enables them to work the energy markets more freely.” Regulators in 2010 gave Google approval to make similar sales.

Not only journalists are finding the going tough in Egypt; solar developers are now also avoiding the area. When Egypt announced plans to develop renewable power in 2014, investors piled in, drawn by year-round sunshine and chronic electricity shortages. Two years on, many projects have stalled, hitting confidence among foreign investors Egypt sorely needs. Developers who prequalified for solar and wind projects under attractive feed-in-tariff (FiT) schemes say they face delays and currency risks while wrangling with the government over contract terms has complicated efforts to secure financing despite the country's gas shortages caused blackouts in 2013 and 2014. Italy’s Enel Green Power, which prequalified in 2015 for one solar and two wind projects under Egypt’s FiT schemes and entered a build-own-operate tender for a 250MW wind project. “Continuous uncertainty from the local authority in managing the process as well as delays in assigning contracts, have lead EGP to freeze its business development operations in the country,” an Enel spokeswoman said. A source from another consortium of foreign investors that prequalified for a solar FiT project said Egypt’s insistence on domestic arbitration in any dispute had prompted a multilateral lender that was co-financing the project to withdraw.
Just 56% of his utility’s generation capacity was beyond its useful life, Mark Johnston, general manager of Municipal Light & Power told the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. “We’re building new generation because the stuff that we have is old,“ Johnston said. ML&P has worked with Chugach Electric Association to build the Southcentral Power Project, a modern, high-efficiency, gas-fired generation facility now in operation in south Anchorage. ML&P has also been building its own high-efficiency power plant, called Plant 2A, adjacent its existing power generation units in the north of Anchorage. Johnston said, although ML&P’s 20-square-mile service area is quite small, the utility serves many of the businesses that operate in Anchorage. And, while only about 20% of the utility’s customers are commercial organizations rather than residential, those commercial customers account for about 88% of the utility’s total load, he said. About 18% of the utility’s power comes from hydropower systems at Eklutna, north of Anchorage, and from Bradley Lake on the Kenai Peninsula. The remaining 82% of the power comes from various gas-fueled facilities.