Thursday, 3 January 2013

Buffett utility to build world’s largest solar photovoltaic power projects

The two combined projects will form the largest permitted solar photovoltaic power development in the world. Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. agreed to spend as much as US$2.5-billion to build two solar projects in California that are set to be the world’s largest photovoltaic development. MidAmerican acquired the 579-megawatt Antelope Valley projects in Kern and Los Angeles counties from SunPower Corp., according to a statement today. MidAmerican will pay San Jose, California-based SunPower US$2-billion to US$2.5-billion for the projects and a three-year contract to build them. SunPower also will operate and maintain the projects under a multiyear agreement with MidAmerican. Buffett has been increasing investment in wind and solar farms and last year formed a MidAmerican unit to support the projects it’s acquired, including the US$2.4-billion 550-megawatt Topaz solar farm in California. Chief Financial Officer Patrick Goodman said in November the company favors bets on renewable energy amid high utility valuations. California is the biggest U.S. solar market. The sale gives panel-maker SunPower “a sizable captive demand channel for its modules which should help ensure the company maintains healthy factory utilization levels even if the oversupply conditions in the industry take longer than expected to be resolved,” Ben Kallo and Christopher M. Kovacs, analysts for Robert W. Baird & Co., said in a note Wednesday. Ingrid Ekstrom, a spokeswoman for SunPower, declined to specify how much of the total amount being spent is construction costs and how much is the purchase price. SunPower is 66% owned by France’s Total SA, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 2015 Completion Construction of the Antelope Valley project is due to begin this quarter, with completion by the end of 2015, SunPower said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “Together, the two combined projects will form the largest permitted solar photovoltaic power development in the world and will create an estimated 650 jobs during construction,” according to the statement. The projects will provide energy to Edison International under two long-term power-purchase contracts. MidAmerican Renewables, a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy, has more than 1,830 megawatts of assets, including wind power, geothermal, solar and hydro, according to today’s statement. MidAmerican is owned by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. SunPower rose 6.6% to $5.99 at 12:28 p.m. in New York. Berkshire, based in Omaha, Nebraska rose 3.4% to $138,653. SOURCE - Bloomberg News

Africa's largest solar power plant to be built in Ghana

The largest solar power plant in Africa will be built in Ghana, the British company behind the plan said on Tuesday. Source of much of the world's cocoa and an increasingly significant oil producer, Ghana's new drive to exploit the sun's energy is predicted to create hundreds of jobs and increase the country's electricity capacity by 6%, as well as cutting emissions. Blue Energy, the renewable energy developer behind the $400m project, which has built a solar farm 31 times smaller outside Swindon, said the 155MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant will be fully operational by October 2015. Construction on the Nzema project is due to begin near the village of Aiwiaso in western Ghana by the end of 2013, with the installation of some 630,000 PV modules. The power plant, which at the time of planning would be the fourth biggest of its kind in the world, will be the first major scheme to claim payments from Ghana's feed-in tariff incentive scheme, created by the government in 2011. Ghana has a target of increasing renewable energy capacity from its current 1% of the country's energy mix to 10% by 2020. Chris Dean, chief executive of Blue Energy, said: "Ghana's forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa. Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa. We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future." Douglas Coleman, the project's director at Blue Energy, told the Guardian that the company was using solar PV instead of the distinctive 'troughs' used in concentrated solar power technology seen in north Africa and the Middle East in part because PV only requires light, not direct sunlight. The choice of PV means the farm will still generate electricity during the more than 100 cloudy days Ghana experiences each year, he said. The company said it expects to create 200 permanent jobs and 500 during the construction phase, which already has the go-ahead from planning authorities. The plan for the Ghanian plant follows recent denials of a crisis at the separate Desertec initiative – which envisions solar plants in north Africa providing green energy for Europe – following the withdrawal of Siemens and Bosch from the initiative. Ghana recorded the fastest growth in Sub-Saharan Africa last year, with GDP growing at 14.3%, driven by oil production. In March, London-based Tullow Oil said an oil field it had found off the coast in 2011 was a major find. The average carbon footprint of a Ghanian is 0.4 tonnes of CO2, compared to 8.5 tonnes of CO2 per head in the UK. Source - The Guardian

Solar-powered lamp-post provides ray of light for Mali

Momodou Keita, town chief of Sanogola, a small village 300km north of Bamako, Mali's capital, stands proudly beside the community's solar-powered lamp-post – a shiny, blue, enamel-coated construction of welded bicycle parts and water pipes. "Ten villages now want these lamps," he announces with pride from inside his traditional Malian mud-walled compound. "Now we have electricity and it helps us so much," he says. Children in the village of Sanogola, Mali, learn to read and write using the solar lamp. Photograph: Matteo Ferroni/ Solar technology is spreading throughout countries across Africa and it is getting cheaper and more efficient. The searing rays of sunlight coupled with the lack of electricity grids on the continent make this renewable form of energy a no-brainer. But what makes Foroba Yelen, or Collective Light – the name given to the lamp-posts by the women of the area – so different is that it was designed specifically for the Malian communities who would end up using it, earning funding from the University of Barcelona for winning a special mention in the City to City Barcelona FAD (El Foment de les Arts i el Disseny/Support for Art and Design) award, a competition recognising initiatives that transform communities across the world. Italian architect Matteo Ferroni spent three years studying villages in rural Mali, where close to 90% of the population have no access to electricity. He wanted to design a light that villagers could manufacture for themselves, so went on to study how welders in nearby Cinzana built donkey carts, the traditional mode of transport that is still widely used today. He used their expertise, along with parts that could be found in any small village in the country, and came up with a design that would "work for the people, not the manufacturers". "Wherever we need the lamp to be, we just move it," says Assitan Coulibaly, the town chief's wife, gesturing to her son who proceeds to rock the lamp-post gently backwards on to its built-in wheel and trundle it around the yard. "Children can do that. Elders can do that. Everyone can do that," she says with a smile. And they make money from renting the lamp-posts out to other communities too, adds Keita. "When other villages need light for any occasion they borrow it and go for the ceremony and bring it back," he says. "They have to pay to know the value of the lights." Ferroni noticed how people in rural areas did not follow western night and day sleep patterns. Instead, they wake and sleep depending on circumstances, and it was often the women who would work through the night using costly and often dangerous paraffin lanterns to finish jobs, such as grinding shea nuts, maize or millet, to sell the following day. "The light is a tool to help women who carry out most of the work in the villages," he says. "If they can do extra work at night, they can bring in more money for the family and in turn improve the education and health of their children." The lamp-posts have become much more than just a source of light for the community of Sanogola. They are enhancing their lives economically, socially and educationally, creating a space for the people of the village to use in whatever way they desire. And 62 more were delivered to communities in the surrounding areas in December. "This light is the equivalent of the shade of the tree in the daytime," says Ferroni. source - The Guardian

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013 to all my readers an fellow people

WE shall be updating the blog on a weekly bases :)