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Turlough Hill Hydro Plant Open to Public – 40th Anniversary

24th June 2014

The Turlough Hill pumped-storage hydroelectricity plant is opening for public tours during Summer 2014, to mark the 40th anniversary of the commissioning of the station, which is located in the Wicklow Mountains near Glendalough.

The Turlough Hill plant began construction in 1968 and was completed 6 years later. It is owned and operated by ESB. The main station is buried inside the mountain and can generate up to 292 MW of electricity at times of peak demand. It can also go from standstill to full capacity in only 70 seconds.

Guided tours are available every Tuesday to Friday during June, July and August and select Saturdays and Sundays. Places can be reserved for these tours at www.esb.ie/turloughhill and more information can be found here.

Are you fit for the new REFIT 2 timelines?

28th May 2013

In the latest example of “non-joined up thinking” by the government, if a generator wants to receive REFIT 2 payments for a given PSO period (Oct-Sep), then it needs to have a REFIT 2 Letter of Offer and a PPA agreed 5 months beforehand (end of April). It’s a good thing that the new legislation states they only had to notify the suppliers of this change and not the generators!

 

The Dept. of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) have significantly changed REFIT legislation for 2013 and how it affects generators looking for REFIT 2 Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

In the current Statutory Instrument Amendment of the Electricity Regulation Act, there have been two significant changes:

  • At least 5 months prior to the commencement of a levy period each relevant supplier shall provide the CER with an estimate of the additional costs……that such supplier estimates it will incur in the next levy period in complying with its obligations under this Order in respect of each REFIT power purchase agreement to which it is a party.
  •  A relevant supplier may only receive payment from the PSO Levy fund in respect of each REFIT PPA to which it is a party in any given levy period when the specific REFIT PPA……has been included in both the PSO levy decision taken by the CER for the specific levy period.

 

So for example, the upcoming PSO period is October 2013 to September 2014. If a generator plans on being operational within that timeframe and it wants to receive REFIT 2 payments, then it would have needed a REFIT 2 Letter of Offer and PPA contract in place before the end of April 2013.

It is also reported that in the case of projects that require banks to cover the senior debt, some banks are now asking for proof from the PPA providers that a given project has been included in the PSO period submissions.

This is going to put even further pressure on generators that require REFIT 2 payments to get their projects off the ground. It gives less flexibility for PPA negotiations, it restricts the timelines of projects and it gives the financial lenders yet another Condition Precedent when closing out financial agreements.

 

 Acronyms:

CER – Commission of Energy Regulation

DCENR – Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

PPA – Power Purchase Agreement

PSO – Public Service Obligation

REFIT – Renewable Energy Feed-In-Tariff

Eirgrid announce timelines for Gate 3 Constraints Reports

16th May 2013

Further to the publication of the decision paper Treatment of Curtailment in Tie-break Situations (Reference: SEM-13-010) by the SEM committee on the 29th of March 2013, Eirgrid are now in a position where the Gate 3 Constraints Reports can be completed and issued to Gate 3 applicants as per the CER Direction CER-08-260.

The reports will be issued for different areas around the country at different time periods between the 24th of April 2013 and the 19th of July 2013. Click here to view the issuance dates of the Gate 3 Constraint Reports.

The constraint levels identified in these studies will ultimately play a part in determining if projects can be successfully financed or not. For those developers that can proceed with their projects, they will then have to contend with more time and policy constraints such as REFIT 2 timelines and planning conditions and expiry.

Treatment of Curtailment in Tie-Break Situations

1st March 2013

Today, the 1st of March 2013, the Single Electricity Market (SEM) Committee has published its decision paper on the Treatment of Curtailment in Tie-break Situations (Reference: SEM-13-010). This paper outlines the SEM Committee decision following a period of consultation on the proposed decision paper (Reference: SEM-12-090) and consideration of the responses to same.

In summary, the SEM Committee has made the following decisions in respect of the treatment of curtailment in tie-break situations in the SEM:

  • Pro rata treatment of all windfarms in dispatch (firm and non-firm) for the purpose of curtailment;
  • On the market side, a cessation of Dispatch and Balancing Cost (DBC) payments for curtailment in tie-break situations by start of 2018 (1 January 2018);
  • The Transmission System Operators and Single Electricity Market Operator (TSOs/SEMO) will be tasked with implementing this mechanism through the relevant market system, codes and dispatch system changes.

 

Responses received to SEM-12-090 are published alongside this paper. The paper and responses can be viewed here on the All Island Project website. The Committee also published the TSO ‘Definition of Curtailment and Constraint’ setting out the methodology for distinguishing between events of constraints and curtailment (SEM-13-011).

It should be noted that this decision paper does not align with the opinions of the majority of respondents, which include private developers, state owned developers, international developers and associations.

Furthermore, at a Meitheal na Gaoithe conference in 2012, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) highlighted that there may be need to incentivise TSOs to minimise curtailment and constraint. This was also raised by respondents to the paper. However, this valid point was only acknowledged with no actions implemented which may create regulatory uncertainty around the levels of curtailments and constraints that are coming down the road…

REFIT Indexation for 2013 published at +1.7%

29th January 2013

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has recently published 2013 indexation figures for the Renewable Energy Feed-In-Tariff (REFIT). As per Section 5.2 of the Terms and Conditions of the three REFIT schemes, the reference prices are adjusted annually by positive indexation.

For 2013, the indexation for all three current REFIT programmes is +1.7%. See the Department website for more information.

The resulting reference prices, in €/MWh, are provided in the following tables.

 

REFIT 1
Year Inflator Large Wind Small Wind Hydro Biomass Landfill Gas Other Biomass
2005 57 59 72 70 72
2006 1.025 58.425 60.475 73.8 71.75 73.8
2007 1.04 60.762 62.894 76.75 74.62 76.752
2008 1.049 63.739 65.976 80.51 78.276 80.513
2009 1.041 66.353 68.681 83.81 81.485 83.814
2010 1 66.353 68.681 83.81 81.485 83.814
2011 1 66.353 68.681 83.81 81.485 83.814
2012 1.026 68.078 70.467 85.99 83.604 85.993
2013 1.017 69.235 71.664 87.46 85.026 87.455

 

REFIT 2
Year Inflator Large Wind Small Wind Hydro Biomass Landfill Gas
2010 66.353 68.681 83.814 81.485
2011 1 66.353 68.681 83.814 81.485
2012 1.026 68.078 70.467 85.993 83.604
2013 1.017 69.235 71.664 87.455 85.026

 

REFIT 3
Year Inflator Biomass Combustion Biomass Combustion – Energy Crops Large Biomass CHP Small Biomass CHP Large AD Non CHP  Small AD Non CHP Large AD CHP Small AD CHP
2010 85 95 120 140 100 110 130 150
2011 1 85 95 120 140 100 110 130 150
2012 1.026 87.21 97.47 123.12 143.64 102.6 112.86 133.38 153.9
2013 1.017 88.693 99.127 125.213 146.082 104.344 114.779 135.647 156.516

 

Kerry County Development Plan Variation Finalised – RE Strategy

5th November 2012

On the 5th of November, Kerry County Council Councillors voted through the 8th Variation to the 2009-2015 County Development Plan, a Renewable Energy Strategy which can be accessed here. In particular, Section 5 of the Renewable Energy Strategy on Wind Energy, proposes exclusion of wind development from the county’s natural heritage designations. This includes the Stacks to Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle Special Protection Area (SPA).

This will have repercussions on the future of the wind energy industry in Kerry, the third largest county in installed MW; and a county that has seen great benefits in terms of investment, jobs and rates. This action will also set precedence in place which could in turn affect other local authorities around the country. The reports to date also leave significant question marks around the re-powering of wind farms currently operational within the SPA.

Proposed Treatment of Wind Farms in Tie-Breaks – SEM-12-090

30th October 2012

On the 3rd of October 2012, the Single Electricity Market (SEM) Committee published a proposed decision on the treatment of curtailment in tie-break situations (SEM-12-090). Two other documents were published alongside SEM-12-090. They were a Transmission System Operator (TSO) report examining the effect of three options outlined in SEM-12-028 on Dispatch Balancing Costs and wind curtailment and a TSO annex setting out the proposed methodology for distinguishing between events of constraints and curtailment.

The extended deadline for receipt of responses to these publications is close of business Monday the 19th of November 2012.

Summary of Proposed Decision

The Proposed Decision of the SEM-12-090 document is Pro-rata dispatch with defined curtailment limit.

This option involves the pro-rata treatment for curtailment of all operational windfarms in dispatch and the imposition of a cap / threshold for the payment of Dispatch Balancing Costs (DBC) compensation for curtailment. It is the SEM Committee’s intention that by 2020, there would no longer be DBC compensation available for curtailment of wind.

The features of this option are as follows:

On the dispatch side curtailment for all operational windfarms will be treated on a pro-rata basis, i.e. all operational windfarms (firm and non-firm) will be turned down on an equal basis by the TSO in a curtailment situation. On the market side, as per current rules, firm projects will be paid market revenues through DBC when curtailed. However this full compensation of curtailment for firm and partially firm generators (0.1% to 99.9%) will only continue up to a fixed point – at the absolute latest this will be the 1 January 2016.

Google’s Growth in Renewable Energy – introducing Google Coordinate

16th August 2012

Google is known for its strong opinions on the use of renewable energy as our future energy sources. It has also used actions as well as words, in putting more than $350 million into clean power, which is impressive for an Internet company.

It has also signed Power Purchase Agreements on over 200MW of wind energy power to offset Google data centres power usage as well as other power requirements. To date Google have highlighted their invested in the following projects:

  • Recurrent Energy: large scale photovoltaic (PV) projects in California
  • Clean Power Finance: financing for rooftop solar
  • SolarCity: solar for thousands of residential rooftops
  • Brightsource: concentrated solar power at scale
  • Atlantic Wind Connection: a superhighway for clean energy transmission
  • Alta Wind Energy Center: harnessing winds of the Mojave
  • Shepherd’s Flat: one of the world’s largest wind farms
  • Peace Garden Wind Farms: opening up more financing for wind
  • Photovoltaics in Germany: investing in clean energy overseas

 

And given their exposure in the Renewable Energy sector it was only a matter of time before they used their software services experience to target the sector. In June 2012, Google announced Google Coordinate, a tool that works with Google Maps amongst other tools, to efficiently manage mobile work teams. This concept is ideal for the wind farm maintenance, in that all users of the system will have visibility as to who is the closest team to a particular site, if they need help and can give some new statistics on work flow.

Kilmoyley National School Visit – Gael Force Wind Energy

25th May 2012

As part of the Engineers Ireland Steps Initiative, Gael Force Wind Energy visited Kilmoyley National School in north County Kerry recently to speak to over 60 students.

The talk was aimed at introducing primary school children to the world of engineering and the talk proved to be a two-way street in terms of education.

Dr. Michael Sheehy, a previous student of Kilmoyley National School, covered his career as an engineer from his first “engineering” job in Kilmoyley School at the age of 11 to his current position as CEO of Gael Force Wind Energy. In an interactive talk, the students of Kilmoyley National School spoke out about how they were presented with their second Green Flag for their efforts in promoting Energy Awareness from water conservation to nuclear fusion!

Gael Force Wind Energy wins Highly Commended Award

12th December 2011

Gael Force Wind Energy has received a Highly Commended Award from IntertradeIreland’s 2012 Seedcorn competition. Seedcorn is the largest business competition for early stage / high growth companies in any sector on any part of the island of Ireland.

Gael Force Wind Energy’s business plan was reviewed by a panel of independent entrepreneurs, investors and experts as part of the prestigious Seedcorn competition. The business plan was focussed on the expansion of our flagship software product, the Gael Force Wind Portal. The Portal is a web-based Operations Management tool for wind farm owners to help them optimise the production revenues from their farm and keep them compliant with lenders, grid operators and health & safety.