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March, 2015:

HK Electric, CLP Power face cut in earnings and prospect of competition in longer term

Government aims to cut 9.9 per cent return the city’s two electricity suppliers currently enjoy and hopes to introduce competition in longer term

The government wants to slash the permitted return of the city’s electricity suppliers to as low as 6 per cent and tighten the process of approving tariffs as it aims to reform the regulatory regime.

Rolling out a public consultation on the development of the electricity market yesterday, environment chief Wong Kam-sing said CLP Power and HK Electric faced a cut in annual returns from the existing 9.99 per cent on their net fixed assets under the 10-year scheme of control agreement, which expires in 2018.

And the controversial idea of importing power from the mainland has been shelved for now.

However, the utilities – both natural monopolies in their own service areas – will be spared competition, at least in the near future. The government will hold discussions with the two firms and conduct joint studies on grid access arrangements after 2018.

“It is unlikely that we would have any new suppliers of sizeable scale either from the mainland or locally in the near term,” said Wong.

“To pave the way for Hong Kong to introduce competition in the longer term, we plan to conduct the necessary preparatory work … such that new suppliers, when available, may participate in the electricity supply market.”

This is the second time in about a decade that the government has taken steps to overhaul the market, which has been dominated by the two suppliers, from power generation to distribution, for more than a century.

CLP serves customers in Kowloon, the New Territories and Lantau; HK Electric caters to Hong Kong Island and Lamma. Their profitability is tied to their spending on electricity assets. They are allowed to earn a 9.99 per cent return on net average fixed assets in the decade to 2018.

Wong said the scheme had worked well, but it could be enhanced in numerous ways, such as by lowering the return rate to as low as 6 per cent and boosting performance through improved incentives and penalties.

Both suppliers said they would co-operate with the government.

CLP said the industry was “hugely capital-intensive and requires long-term investment” and “reasonable return and certainty in the regulatory regime” were key to attracting “sufficient investment to meet the needs of the economy”.

HK Electric said: “We must guard against changing the scheme of control for the sake of change, including the critical success factors like the rate of return and the incentive and penalty scheme.”

The government said it would “not rule out” legislative changes if consensus was not reached with the utilities.

Dr William Chung Siu-wai, an expert in energy policy at City University, expressed disappointment at the decision not to put a priority on breaking the utilities’ dominance.

Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai, a member of the Legislative Council’s environmental affairs panel, said the new document was “a refry” of the public consultation in 2005.

The chairman of the Consumer Council, Professor Wong Yuk-shan, said the report failed to provide forward-looking development for the electricity market. He urged the government to raise the proportion of renewables in the mix and step up research on small-scale power generation.


After 2018:

· Cut CLP Power and HK Electric’s permitted annual return to 6pc from 9.9pc now

· Tighten tariff approval process

· Improve incentives/penalties to boost performance

· Study with CLP Power and HK Electric third-party access to their grids, interconnections of grids and segregation of generation, and distribution businesses

Source URL (modified on Apr 1st 2015, 7:52am):

Municipal Solid Waste and urban residues

Feedstocks in Focus for April 1: Municipal Solid Waste and urban residues

Also known as “Urban waste”, it’s nasty, here, inevitable and aggregated. The feedstocks are available at fixed, affordable prices and in long-term supply contracts from credit-worthy entities. Everyone loves the idea. So, when will we have it?

The Advanced Bioeconomy Feedstocks Conference, in New Orleans this June 9-10, 2015, organized by The Digest, will have a full session-length program on municpal solid waste and urban residues.

Where are some of the projects that might be advanced in the future??

In Maine, the University of Maine has been hired by a consortium of 187 towns and their MSW streams to evaluate whether Fiberight’s technology could be a good option for the state’s waste. The company is producing its Trashanol at a facility in Lawrenceville, Virginia. Currently the consortium’s waste is processed by a waste-to-energy plant in Orrington it partially owns but will not likely be profitable after 2018 when its current power offtake agreement expires.

In Thailand, Phuket’s Provincial Administration Organization is seeking $22.6 million to build a waste-to-biofuel facility that would use the entire island’s MSW as feedstock. Funding for the project will be sought from the national Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

In Canada, Iris Solutions, Plenary Harvest Surrey and Urbaser S.A. have been shortlisted from an original group of 11 companies to invest in, build and operate the city of Surrey’s $60 million residential kitchen and yard waste into renewable fuel project. The fuel is destined to power the city’s garbage collection vehicles.

In Texas, former Terrabon CTO Cesar Granda told the Digest: “We are in the early stages of a new company, Earth Energy Renewables, which bought out all the Terrabon assets, data and IP from the bankruptcy and kept a few of the key employers in payroll . Our focus is to ramp up with chemicals first producing acids and ketones, before we move on to fuels again, which we are still enthusiastic about. We are in fund raising mode at the moment, but research and progress is continuing at the lab and pilot plant level.” As of last year, EER had exceeded its goal of producing 70 gallons of renewable gasoline per ton of MSW using its patented acid fermentation technology.

Waste to Fuels Monsters. Today, Solena and INEOS Bio.


INEOS Bio announced that its Indian River BioEnergy Center at Vero Beach is now producing cellulosic ethanol at commercial scale — and registered its first RINs from that production earlier this year.

This is the first commercial-scale production in the world using INEOS Bio’s breakthrough gasification and fermentation technology for conversion of biomass waste into bioethanol and renewable power.

The Center cost more than $130 million and created more than 400 direct construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs during its development. The project sourced more than 90% of the equipment from U.S. manufacturers, creating or retaining jobs in more than 10 states. The Center has 65 full- time employees and provides $4 million annually in payroll to the local community.

As of last September, the company updated its progress as follows:

“INEOS Bio’s Vero Beach facility has recently completed a major turn-around that included upgrades to the technology as well as completion of annual safety inspections. We are now bringing the facility back on-line,” said Nigel Falcon, Site Director. “In addition we will soon finish installation of equipment that will be used to remove impurities from one of our process streams that have been negatively impacting operations. This equipment will be commissioned and brought online over the remainder of the year.”

We’ve spent the last year investigating and testing options for improving the operation of the facility, both at the Center as well as at our pilot facility in Fayetteville Arkansas. We decided on the optimum path forward and are in the final stages of implementing the required changes,” Falcon continued. “Over the next six months, we will focus on implementing these upgrades at the Center as we look to continue to build its on-stream performance and reliability.”

Concluded Falcon, “We fully expected to encounter new challenges as we scaled up this exciting new technology. We’ve taken the time to develop solutions that will enable reliable production of high quality bioethanol. The efforts moving forward will continue to focus on safe operations, optimizing the technology, and de-bottlenecking the plant to achieve full production capacity.”

Solena Fuels

Solena’s Integrated Biomass-Gas to Liquid “IBGTL” solution is based on a Fischer-Tropsch platform coupled with Solena’s proprietary high temperature plasma gasification technology to produce sustainable fuels from low carbon-bearing organic waste. Solena has developed best-of-breed relationships with world-leading technology and engineering companies to implement its IBGTL solution worldwide. As it addresses the substantial and rapidly growing demand for sustainable fuels at market prices for petroleum based fuels, Solena is considered a highly attractive solution and market leader in the sustainable synthetic fuels industry.

A unique characteristic of the IBGTL process is that it can handle a wide variety of feedstock and thus is completely “fuel flexible”. Unlike standard gasification technologies, Solena’s IBGTL process utilizes a powerful and independent heat source – plasma torches – and can thus accommodate varying heterogeneous feedstock. The company has several projects in development in India (highlighted above), and with Lufthansa, Qantas and Turkish Airlines.

The British Airways project. In 2010, British Airways announced its GreenSky London project — and in November 2012 the airline announced its binding offtake and investment commitment to GreenSky London. GreenSky London will transform tonnes of municipal waste – normally sent to landfills – into Bio-SPK, Green FT Diesel and Green FT Naphtha.

The chosen location for this innovative project is the Thames Enterprise Park, part of the site of the former Coryton oil refinery in Thurrock, Essex. The site has excellent transport links and existing fuel storage facilities. One thousand construction workers will be hired to build the facility which is due to be completed in 2017, creating up to 150 permanent jobs.

This ground-breaking fuel project is set to revolutionise the production of sustainable aviation fuel. Approximately 575,000 tonnes of post-recycled waste, normally destined for landfill or incineration, will instead be converted into 120,000 tonnes of clean burning liquid fuels using Solena’s innovative integrated technology. British Airways has made a long-term commitment to purchase all 50,000 tonnes per annum of the jet fuel produced at market competitive rates.

In November 2013, Solena Fuels is in discussions with city authorities in Chennai to use the city’s 5,000 tons of MSW per day to produce 120 million liters of aviation biofuel and 45 million liters of diesel per year. The facility would cost $450 million to build with an eight year ROI. Solena’s technology is syngas-based using plasma reactors to treat the feedstock.

Berlin will be the first capital to run 100% e-bus line with wireless charge

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BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE to Provide Wireless Charging and Battery Technology to Berlin

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Smog documentary on China’s pollution wrong to blame oil, say industry bosses

Petroleum bosses defend their record, saying documentary misleads viewers by faulting cars, not coal, for the worsening problem

Petrochemical industry insiders have disputed claims made in Under the Dome, Chai Jing’s documentary on smog in China, that lax quality standards for petroleum were a key reason for worsening air pollution.

The investigation by Chai, a former state television presenter, also claimed interference by China’s major oil companies was another factor.

Cao Xianghong, head of the China Petroleum Industrial Standardisation Committee, said on the sidelines of the the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference yesterday that the country had steadily been improving the quality of its petrol and diesel since 2000.

“It’s wrong to say China’s petroleum quality upgrading is too slow,” said Cao, who rejected the conclusion that the standards committee was dominated and heavily influenced by major oil companies, as suggested in Chai’s documentary.

A standard could only be approved if it gained support from three quarters of members from a voting group of about 50 experts, Cao said. Fifty-one per cent of the experts were from the petrochemical industry, while the remainder came from the motor industry, environmental protection department, military and other government agencies, Cao said. Cao is a former vice-president of oil giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation.

Meanwhile, a widely circulated online article purportedly penned by a senior engineer from the state oil giant China National Petroleum Corporation said Chai’s video had confused viewers by blaming vehicle exhausts as the main culprit for smog in northern China when in fact it was coal combustion.

The article, attributed to Wan Zhanxiang, a CNPC deputy chief engineer for natural gas quality and standards, said that national petroleum standards were set by government departments, not big oil corporations.

But Yue Xin, a researcher at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences who has also been involved in setting the petroleum standards, wrote in his blog that China’s environmental protection department had no power to veto the standards if it found them too lax.

“Staff from the petroleum industry have dominated key positions in the standards committee, such as the secretary general. And they take advantage in voting,” Yue wrote.

He criticised the monopoly of China’s major oil companies, who have refused to make public the cost of refining petroleum.

Only Beijing, Shanghai and a few cities in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces have adopted emissions standards on a par with the Euro 5b standards. Europe started implementing Euro 6 standards in September.

Additional reporting by Teddy Ng and Mimi Lau

Source URL (modified on Mar 4th 2015, 11:44am):

Energy company could end funding for climate change denier

Scientist Dr Wei-Hock Soon, who accepted $1.25m in funding from Exxon Mobil and others, defends his record and attacks ‘politically motivated groups’

Funders appear to be backing away from a prominent climate change denier who may have failed to disclose that his peer-reviewed articles were funded with grants from petroleum companies.

On Monday, the scientist defended accepting the grants through one of the largest climate denial lobbying groups in the United States, even as former donors are discontinuing contracts.

Documents obtained by Greenpeace showed that Dr Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, who worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, accepted $1.25m in funding from companies such as Exxon Mobil and the industry group American Petroleum Institute.

On Monday, Soon defended his record through the Heartland Institute, a group that lobbies against climate change initiatives and one of the scientist’s most avid supporters.

“In recent weeks I have been the target of attacks in the press by various radical environmental and politically motivated groups,” said Soon in a statement released on Monday on Heartland’s website.

“This effort should be seen for what it is: a shameless attempt to silence my scientific research and writings, and to make an example out of me as a warning to any other researcher who may dare question in the slightest their fervently held orthodoxy of anthropogenic global warming.”

The Heartland Institute has framed the debate as a partisan issue, blaming the American left for attempting to discredit a scientist who questions accepted science. Heartland’s president, Joseph L Bast, has gone so far as to call critics “ethically challenged and mental midgets”.

This logic will probably ring hollow for scientists who, for years, have worked to build evidence of climate change while denial groups and conservative politicians attempted to discredit them.

Soon’s statement on Monday came as clean energy advocates questioned whether one company, electric utility Southern Company, had any business funding research when it could have used the cash to reduce ratepayers’ bills. Southern granted Soon $409,000, according to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Southern Company said on Tuesday that it “funds a broad range of research on a matter of topics that have potentially significant public policy implications for our business”.

“While the scientific and political discussions on climate change continue, Southern Company is focused on researching, developing and deploying innovative energy technologies to deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity to customers.”