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  • Sunny Egypt Interested in Wind Power

    Sunny Egypt Interested in… Wind Power


    Egypt currently has a total electricity capacity of about 23,500 megawatts, which the government hopes to increase to 58,000 megawatts by 2027.


    A prime potential element in increasing this electrical output?




    One might think, given Egypt’s climate, solar?


    Wrong again – wind power, which currently contributes less than 1 percent to Egypt’s energy mix.


    In 2003 Egypt had its wind potential assessed and published a wind atlas, which found that with wind speeds of 7-10 meters per second, almost the entire nation was ideal for wind power installations, with the country’s best areas being along the Gulf of Suez coast. Two years later the atlas’s coverage was expanded to mapping the country’s wind potential in detail and determined that large desert regions both to the east and the west of the Nile River, as well as parts of Sinai, have average annual wind speeds of 7-8 meters per second.


    Three years ago, the government of former President Hosni Mubarak approved a progressive and ambitious project by 2020 to produce 20 percent of its energy from renewables, with 12 percent being generated by wind power. Mubarak’s cabinet approved incentives for wind power development, including exemption from customs duties and 20 to 25 year power purchase agreements with government guarantees, a policy that the country’s new transitional government has endorsed.


    According to the World Bank, if the policy comes to fruition, then Egypt will realize a 7,200 megawatt wind power capacity, cut vehicle emissions through improved public transportation, and make industry more energy efficient.


    Jonathan Walters, transport and energy manager for the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa regions, said that “high and persistent” winds in the Gulf of Suez suggest Egypt has “excellent potential for wind power – among the best in the world.”


    The European Union’s Clean Development Mechanism (NYSEMKT:CDM), which permits businesses and governments in industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by investing in emission reduction projects in developing countries have already become involved in developing Egypt’s nascent wind power industry.


    CDM members Denmark, Spain and Germany collaborated on building Egypt’s first wind farm, the 545 megawatt Zafarana wind facility, located 80 miles south of Suez on the Red Sea coast, which came online last year.


    The Zafarana wind farm began construction in 2001. In 2010 120 megawatts of wind capacity were added to Zafarana in cooperation with the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), taking the facility’s total installed capacity to 545 megawatts, allowing it last year to generate 1,147 gigawatt hours of electricity.


    The European Investment Bank (EIB) is also involved in securing financing for Egyptian wind power projects.


    Egypt’s Minister of Electricity and Energy Hassan Younis is now seeking international funding to help underwrite the country’s largest proposed wind facility of 120 megawatts, for which Egypt’s private sector will underwrite 63 percent of the project, accordingly to a press release from Cairo’s Egypt State Information Service.  If all goes well, Younis said that the 120 megawatt facility is scheduled to become operational in 2013.


    Bigger plans are afoot – according to Younis, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy has now issued new competitive bidding tenders for underwriting a project of establishing a 1,000 megawatt wind farm, scheduled for completion in 2015-2016, along with three other wind facilities. Under the terms of the government tender, investors will finance, build and operate the power facilities for a period of 20 to 25 years, selling the power generated by their wind farms to the state-owned Egyptian Electric Company at prices approved by the government.


    The largest bottleneck thus far to expanding Egypt’s wind power facilities is securing funding, but Cairo scored some successes even before the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. In mid-2010, the World Bank agreed to lend Cairo $220 million to build infrastructure that would connect wind farms to the national grid and to support some of the other wind farm projects planned in the country.


    The Egyptian government is seeking to build production facilities to manufacture selective wind turbine components for the increasing demand of local and regional markets, initially focusing on producing turbine towers and blade facilities for the local market to supply a projected 400 megawatts of facility needs per year and then to export products to the emerging North African and Middle Eastern markets. NREA estimates that the blade manufacturing project requires an estimated investment of $59 million and the tower industry $147 million.


    Ancient Egyptians worshiped the sun god Ra. If all goes to plan, then Ra might have to share his primacy with Qebui, god of the north wind and Maahes, the god of war and weather.




    By. John C.K. Daly of

    Nov 07 9:00 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Cover Up - New Report Shreds Japan's Carefully Constructed Fukushima Scenario

    Japan’s six reactor Fukushima Daichi nuclear complex has inadvertently become the world’s bell-weather  poster child for the inherent risks of nuclear power ever since the 11 March Tohoku offshore earthquake, measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, triggered a devastating tsunami that effectively destroyed the complex.


    Ever since, specialists have wrangled about how damaging the consequences of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami actually were, not only for the facility but the rest of the world.


    The Fukushima Daichi complex was one of the 25 largest nuclear power stations in the world and the Fukushima I reactor was the first GE designed nuclear plant to be constructed and run entirely by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO.


    Needless to say, in the aftermath of the disaster, both TEPCO and the Japanese government were at pains to minimize the disaster’s consequences, hardly surprising given the country’s densely populated regions.


    But now, an independent study has effectively demolished TEPCO and the Japanese government’s carefully constructed minimalist scenario. Mainichi news agency reported that France’s l’Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire (Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, or IRSN) has issued a recent report stating that the amount of radioactive cesium-137 that entered the Pacific after 11 March was probably nearly 30 times the amount stated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. in May.


    According to IRSN, the amount of the radioactive isotope cesium-137 that flowed into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant between March 21 and mid-July reached an estimated 27.1 quadrillion becquerels.


    Why should this matter? Aren’t the Japanese authorities on top of the issue?


    Cesium-137 can cause burns, acute radiation sickness and even death at sufficient doses. It can contaminate food and water and, if ingested, gets distributed around the body, where it builds up in soft tissues, such as muscles. Over time, it is expelled from the body in urine.


    And where might tingested cesium-137 come from?


    Seafood, anyone? One of the problems of the release of radioactivity into a maritime environment is that is represents a cumulative food chain, from plankton consumed by larger organisms, as evidenced by mercury contamination of swordfish, none of whom swam around ingesting globules of the silvery metal.


    IRSN estimated that of the total amount, 82 percent had flowed into the sea by 8 April, adding that the Pacific was polluted at exceptional speed because the devastated Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant (NYSE:NPP) is situated in a coastal area with strong currents.


    If the IRSN report contained any good news, it was that the impact of the cesium-137 contamination on marine life in remote waters is likely to lessen later this year.


    The radioactive silver lining? Radioactive cesium-137 has a half life of roughly 30 years, so if the IRSN estimates are accurate, then my 2041 the Pacific’s aquatic life will only be subjected to a mere 13.55 quadrillion becquerels of radiation.


    This is not to suggest that Japanese will shortly be keeling over from consuming their sushi but rather, that for better or for worse, a significant amount of cesium 137 has entered the Pacific’s aquatic environment, and the long-term effects of low-level exposure on the population consuming Pacific seafood are unknown. Numerous tests since 1945, when before it  was believed that only massive bursts of radiation were hazardous to human health, have documented the insidious effects of long-term, low level radiological exposure to humans.


    Fukushima sits at the nexus where the Kuroshio Current, running northward off the eastern coast of Japan, collides with the cold subarctic Oyashio Current that flows southwards, circulating counterclockwise along the western North Pacific Ocean. Their interaction produces the North Pacific Current, a slow warm water eastwards flowing current between 40 and 50 degrees north in the Pacific Ocean. In the eastern northern Pacific, the North Pacific Current divides into the southern flowing California Current and the northern Alaska Current.


    The potential level of pollution outlined in the IRSN report indicate that it is long overdue for both TEPCO and the Japanese government to stop dribbling out information about the true state of events since Fukushima was devastated, and that foreign governments, particularly the United States, whose western shores are washed by the same currents that pass by Fukushima, insist that they do so.


    While trillions of dollars are at stake in the worldwide nuclear industry, the potential health consequences are now simply too significant to ignore.




    By. John C.K. Daly of

    Nov 03 3:51 PM | Link | Comment!
  • China’s Growing Interest in Biofuels

    On 28 October Air China conducted its first trial flight of a passenger jet powered by a mix of biofuel and traditional aviation fuel.


    The Jet A-1 biofuel kerosene used in the flight was derived from the seeds of tung trees, more commonly known as japtropha.


    Air China’s Boeing 747-400 landed safely at Beijing Capital International Airport at 9:30 a.m. after burning more than 10 tons of the biofuel, a 50-50 mixture of traditional Jet A-1 derived from oil and Jet A-1 processed from the japtropha seeds. The jatproha Jet A-1 is what’s known as a drop-in, simply being admixed in a 50-50 ratio with conventional Jet A-1, and requires no engine modifications.


    Air China Vice President He Li said the composition and the burning efficiency of the biofuel admixture had been tested along with its impact on the Boeing 747’s four Pratt and Whitney JT9D high-bypass turbofan engines.


    The Hydro-treated Renewable Jet Fuel (HRJ) used Honeywell/ Universal Oil Products’ process to produce the biofuel. According to Jennifer Holmgren , UOP’s former director for renewable energy and chemicals, UOP licenses the process “nonexclusively.” UOP said in a statement, "The flight is a result of a broader effort kicked-off in 2010 by China's National Energy Administration and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to address the technical, economic and institutional factors required for the development of a new biofuels industry in China."


    Air China is the People's Republic of China flag carrier and one of the country’s major airlines, the world’s tenth largest airline company according to fleet size, operating nine Boeing 747s scheduled to be phased out. Air China has already retired five Boeing 747s.

    According to the International Energy Agency, China will lead the world in “demand growth” for jet fuel through 2012, reaching 5.6 percent. Total worldwide demand for Jet A-1 is forecast to reach 239.4 million gallons per day during the same period, compared 214.2 million gallons in 2007, a demand-growth rate of 2.3 percent. A 2007 422-page National Petroleum Council study, Facing the Hard Truths About Energy, reports that global demand for energy, including jet fuel - will grow by as much as 60 percent by 2030. It is China’s growing civilian air capacity that makes the test significant, as China Civil Aviation Administration official Zhang Hongying said following the test that the jatropha-derived biofuel was now ready to be used for commercial flights.


    The Air China test flight is the world’s sixth such demonstration flight using Jet A-1 derived from jatropha.


    The success was long in coming. PetroChina vice president Shen Diancheng remarked that it had taken PetroChina a decade to overcome the technical barriers of converting jatropha oil into Jet A-1 aircraft, but now that tests have proven its viability, PetroChina expects to ramp up production to 60,000 tons of jatropha Jet A-1 annually by 2014.


    China’s interest in developing biofuels for industrial use is growing rapidly. In late 2009 Boeing and China signed a biofuel agreement with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese universities calling for research and development that potentially could support commercialization of jatropha. China has been proactive in the biofuel area for a number of years, with jatropha planted in 2007, and the plant - either wild or cultivated - can be found in Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces as well as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous

    region. Yunnan currently has 33,000 hectares under cultivation and the Xinhua news agency reports that the country will have 13 million hectares of biofuel plantations by 2020 that will produce 6 million tons of biodiesel annually.


    But commercial jatropha production has its bottlenecks. While jatropha grows wild in tropical regions and can be cultivated on land not suitable for crops, it produces a lot more on cropland, suggesting that if it becomes popular, airlines will have to be careful that it is not squeezing out crop production. Initial field tests of jatropha cultivation suggest that high oil yields require that the plant receive water, nutrients, and soil conditions that are comparable to many food crops.


    A substantial drawback to jatropha is that it is currently harvested manually and commercial producers have found that the plant is more labor intensive than originally thought, especially for harvesting.


    Despite these setbacks, commercial jatropha production is underway or being established abroad. Abundant Biofuels Corporation, which is headquartered in California, has jatropha cultivation projects underway in the Philippines, Columbia, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. D1 Oils plc of London, United Kingdom, has announced large projects in India, Malawi, and Zambia. A number of companies are reported to have recently acquired rights to cultivate jatropha in Ghana. The central and some state governments of India are promoting jatropha production on tens of millions of acres, although these efforts have been criticized for potential adverse impacts on forested areas, biodiversity, and food production. Early yields in India have been below expectations.


    Accordingly, commercial firms growing jatproha and airlines worldwide will be watching events in China with great interest. Fuel and oil comprise 25 percent of airlines’ operating costs and when the price of jet fuel rises one cent, it increases the global cost of aviation $195 million.


    Given the fiscal resources available in China, it therefore seems most likely that jatropha commercial aviation biofuel production will arise their first, if sufficient land not impacting the nation’s food production can be found.


    Perhaps in the future the East will not be so red as green.




    By. John C.K. Daly of

    Nov 02 2:48 PM | Link | Comment!
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