Tag: Renewable energy

JMMB Group Limited will spend US$420,000 ($53 million) on a solar energy system to power various offices across Jamaica this year.

The project forms part of a wider move by JMMB to reduce its carbon footprint.

“We plan to implement this on a location-by-location basis, with the first implementation taking place at one of our locations in Kingston, in the coming months. The cost is as stated, US$420,000,” the financial conglomerate told the Financial Gleaner.

JMMB estimates the project payback period will span just about five years based on expected energy savings.

The solar plant will generate up to 293,935 kilowatts, hours of electricity per year with the use of clean renewable energy.

“The system is expected to save the company US$90,000 annually, and reduce oil energy dependency by 34 per cent,” JMMB said in its newly released annual report for year ending March 2016.

Roughly three years ago, JMMB embarked on a company-wide initiative coined ‘Go Green’, with one of the primary objectives to change the group’s energy practices in a way that was more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient.

“This investment in a grid-tied solar system is just another step in the direction of making us even more efficient at how we use energy,” the company said via email.

A grid-tied solar system is one where the system itself is tied to the external electricity grid, as opposed to batteries.

“In other words, the system uses the sun to generate our electricity needs, with any unused electricity going back to the external grid, as opposed to being stored in batteries,” said JMMB.

JMMB expects the project to expand over time through exploration of other renewable resources to all JMMB Group locations, where possible.

JMMB Group made $2.3 billion profit off $10.42 billion of net revenue in FY2016.

Gleaner

A smart meter is seen on display at the launch.         Ricardo Makyn

The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) launched their nationwide smart meter roll-out at the JPS headquarters on July 7.

According to President and CEO of JPS Kelly Tomblin, “the future of energy is bright… Jamaica and JPS are embedded in a phase of unprecedented progress”. Gary Barrow, chief technology officer at JPS, underscored the importance of smart meters and the benefits to the current national grid.

“We’re actually putting more intelligence in the grid to provide the stability and reliability that is going to be necessary when we start to integrate mass amounts of these renewables and that is really the start of our smart grid, the primary driver,” he said. “This year, we’re going to be launching three applications … those are going to be smart-phone applications.” On these applications, customers will be able to get outage notifications, restoration times, and real-time consumption and see their bill online and pay it.

“All of our appliances in a short while will become Wi-Fi-enabled and it will mean that you will be able to use your smartphone wherever you are, whatever time, to actually look at your devices, to get access to your devices and turn them on and off,” he said. The company is also investing in other smart grid technologies and services, including smart LED street lighting, smart parking and smart vehicle-charging stations for electric vehicles. This is all part of building a smart energy economy.

A pilot programme was launched three years ago in sections of the Jacks Hill and Barbican communities and Barrow said the company learned much from both customers and on the technical side.

“Already, we have over 50,000 smart meters in the field right now that we’re able to control remotely and we’re able to get usage patterns, but we don’t have the software that actually allows our customers to dial in.”

This year, the company is targeting to roll out over 20,000 smart meters on that network at a cost of approximately US$5 million. Seven parishes will be covered: Kingston, St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann, St Mary, St James and Westmoreland. JPS technicians will visit customers over the next four to five months and will change the current meters free of cost

BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com

 

LNG is coming to Jamaica

 

New Fortress Energy, the company which has won the contract to supply the island’s sole power distributor the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) with LNG for substations in Bogue, Montego Bay and another to be developed in Old Harbour, St Catherine, said it buys supplies from sources worldwide.

The company has declined to comment whether its suppliers include Trafigura Beheer, from which the Jamaica Observer understands it has sought to make buys.

Meanwhile, the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team (ESET) has indicated to theBusiness Observer that it does not matter where in the world the gas comes from.

Trafigura is the world’s third-largest private oil and metals trader. That company is also seeking to grow its market for LNG supply globally.

 

However, in 2011 the Dutch company was involved in controversy for a $31-million political donation to the the People’s National Party administration, which was then the governing party.

The company continues to sell supplies through third-party deals to the local market, including spot purchases made by Petrojam.

Describing the surge in LNG demand as an “LNG revolution”, Trafigura says on its wesbite that it plans to double supplies sold year over year from base year 2013 when the company transported one metric tonne (mt) of LNG globally.

The company has three full-time traders based in Geneva supported by its US Natural Gas team in Houston, Texas, and a European Natural Gas team, working with 27 LNG regional offices in key export and import countries across the globe.

However, as to sales programmed for Jamaica, the company said it has no comment.

“We don’t comment on our day-to-day commercial arrangements,” Victoria Dix, media liaison for Trafigura said when asked to channel questions about the Caribbean market, including Jamaica.

Bloomberg describes Trafigura Beheer as the world’s current largest LNG trader, reporting at year end December 2015 that the commodity trader “boosted the amount of LNG handled to 4.2 million metric tonnes in the financial year ended September 30, from 1.7 million a year earlier following a doubling in volumes… that made it the world’s biggest independent LNG trader.”

A source close to New Fortress Energy told the Business Observer that it is normal for ships to swap cargo and there may have been spot purchases, but that there is, however, no long-term relationship with Trafigura.

 

More directly, the company, through a spokesperson, said it sources LNG from all over the world.

“In addition to supplying our own gas from the United States, New Fortress Energy sources gas from all over the world. As a matter of policy, we cannot comment further,” New Fortress said.

He stated that in relation to Bogue, “we’re making significant progress and are excited to provide natural gas to help further Jamaica’s clean energy transition. We’re in close coordination with JPS on the process and timeline”.

Chairman of ESET Dr Vincent Lawrence told the Business Observer on Monday that the source of LNG was immaterial.

“ESET is not aware of any trades, swaps or short-term source arrangements that New Fortress Energy may make in satisfying its contractual arrangements with JPS.

“NFE under its Gas Supply Agreement arrangements can supply gas from any origin. However, in ESET granting approval of the Gas Supply Agreement between JPS and NFE, in order to ensure security of supply, NFE had to demonstrate as to its long-term ownership of and access to gas from the United States including the ability to obtain any required export permits.”

Lawrence added, “The contractual arrangements are private and between two private companies,” further adding that “the GOJ is not a party to the contractual nor day to day delivery arrangements”.

The island is moving towards the majority use of LNG as fuel for energy, with the aim of reducing dependence on oil which is subject to price volatility.

To that end, JPS has retrofitted its 115MW gas turbine plant in Montego Bay from automotive diesel oil to dual fuel use. The conversion, it was projected, will result in an approximate 40 per cent fuel price reduction.

New Fortress has also secured the supply contract for the JPS’s planned 195MW plant in Old Harbour which is being razed and will be rebuilt and expanded.

Start-up of LNG use at the JPS Bogue plant is due to begin in August, when construction of fuel lines and storage facilities are expected to be completed.

New Fortress is also slated to construct an expandable 100MW, natural, gas-fired, cogeneration plant for alumina producer, Jamalco, replacing a previous plan for a coal-fired alternative

 

The Observer

Tomblin

 

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), managers of the national electricity grid expects Golar LNG to ship liquefied natural gas to Jamaica, despite its heavy losses.

Golar is contracted to New Fortress Energy (NFE), the latter being JPS’s selected partner to develop and supply natural gas to the Jamaican utility. New Fortress is five months behind schedule with deliveries.

JPS President and Chief Executive Officer Kelly Tomblin said that even in the worst-case scenario, the power utility remains protected.

“Golar is a public company with a market cap of about US$1.5 billion and a balance sheet with over US$4 billion of assets. It’s been in business since 1946 and is widely followed by investors all over the world,” said Tomblin in a response to Gleaner queries.

“New Fortress Energy has indicated to me that they have been a dependable and reliable partner in preparing to deliver gas to Jamaica. JPS is protected contractually if New Fortress fails to bring gas, as required in the gas supply agreement.”

NFE earlier this year contracted Golar for two years to ship LNG to Jamaica. The first shipments will feed JPS’s plant at Bogue in Montego Bay, which has already been retrofitted to burn gas as well as diesel oil.

In early June, NFE acknowledged Gleaner queries regarding the implications of Golar’s finances, but did not follow through with a response.

NET LOSSES

Golar reported net losses of US$80 million for its first quarter ending March. The loss was mainly because of its US$61.5 million in operating expenses, towering over its US$18.6 million in revenues for the period. Over 12 months, Golar posted a US$197.6-million net loss for financial year 2015 and US$43 million in net losses for 2014.

Last month, CEO Gary Smith resigned, and its former CEO, Oscar Spieler, retook control of the company amid restructuring of the operations.

Tomblin expects the LNG projects at Bogue and, later, at Old Harbour, along with additional capacity from renewable plants, to reduce the power utility’s reliance on heavy oil from 95 per cent to 50 per cent in the medium term.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com

 

The Gleaner

BMW Is Turning Used i3 Batteries Into Home Energy Storage Units

 

Repurposed batteries could create a new revenue stream for EV customers. But it’s not yet clear how the buyback program will work.

by Julia Pyper
June 21, 2016
BMW is making a major push into the stationary energy storage market.

The German automaker announced that it is turning new and used i3 batteries into energy storage solutions for homes and small businesses. The company unveiled its plans at an electric vehicle symposium in Montreal.

“With a battery storage system electrified by BMW, our customers can take the next step toward a sustainable energy lifestyle. Coupled with the home-charging and solar energy programs, the system enables BMW drivers to embrace holistic sustainability beyond e-mobility,” said Rob Healey, manager of electric vehicle infrastructure for BMW North America, in a statement.

In an interview, Healey added that energy storage fits with BMW’s 360º Electric program, which currently offers customers electric vehicles, charging infrastructure and rooftop solar through a partnership with SolarCity. Through that partnership BMW i owners receive a $1,000 credit toward SolarCity’s home solar offer. BMW’s sustainability package sounds very similar to the type of solution Tesla wants to offer with its proposed acquisition of SolarCity.

“This is really a part of a much bigger puzzle for BMW that we’re putting together as we look out to the future,” said Healey. “We offer customers electric vehicles, we offer customers charging, and we offer customers access to solar panels and producing their own renewable energy. And now, with this next piece, we offer the customer an energy storage solution that fits into the overall picture of sustainability.”

The market-ready product currently uses i3 high-voltage batteries, but can be equipped to incorporate second-life batteries as they become available. There are relatively few of these used batteries on the market today, because the i3, an all-electric city car, has only been on the market since 2013. That will change as the lithium-ion batteries degrade over time and are no longer considered suitable for vehicle use. A repurposed battery can offer “many additional years of service,” according to BMW.

As i3 batteries reach the end of their automotive life, BMW and German-based Beck Automation plan to turn them into plug-and-play energy storage systems by unbolting them from the i3 and installing them in a Beck-designed charging module. The system is sized to fit conveniently in a basement or a garage where it can be used to power electrically operated devices in a home or to charge an electric car.

The energy storage units are equipped with BMW i3’s 22-kilowatt-hour or 33-kilowatt-hour capacity batteries, which are ideally suited to operate appliances and entertainment devices for up to 24 hours. A typical home in the U.S. consumes between 15 and 30 kilowatt-hours of energy per day.

The systems are outfitted with software to determine the optimal time to charge or discharge the system. The BMW storage system also includes a voltage converter and power electronics to manage the energy flow between renewable energy resources, the home and the battery.

“With this system, which integrates seamlessly with charging stations and solar panels, customers can offset peak energy costs and also enjoy the added security of an available backup energy supply during power outages,” according to the BMW press release.

Theoretically, this concept should give i3 drivers a new way to make money from their used cars by creating a market for second-life batteries. However, it’s not yet clear how a battery buyback program would work.

There are also a number of outstanding questions around battery design and cost. Tesla’s 6.4-kilowatt-hour home battery sells to installers for $3,000 and is estimated to retail for around $7,000. Can BMW’s 22-kilowatt-hour used battery get anywhere close to that price?

In addition, the product release timeline has yet to be determined. According to a spokesman, “BMW is currently evaluating a distribution/marketing strategy where pilot programs in the U.S. could start in 2017.”

BMW has been preparing to enter the stationary energy storage market for a number of years. In 2013, the automaker installed a microgrid application at the University of California San Diego using second-life Mini E batteries. In 2014, BMW integrated high-voltage batteries into a stationary storage system in Hamburg for Vattenfall that stores solar power as a buffer for fast-charging stations. In 2015, NextEra signed a contract for the delivery of 20 megawatt-hours of repurposed automotive batteries from the i3 and BMW’s ActiveE test fleet — which BMW claims is the largest contract of its kind in automotive history.

In addition, BMW continues to participate in an energy storage pilot projectwith Pacific Gas & Electric. Under the program, PG&E manages 100 kilowatts of demand from 100 active i3 vehicles and a stationary unit of repurposed BMW Mini E batteries located at BMW’s Mountain View office. The system was designed to test how electric vehicles and second-life batteries can offer reliability services to the grid. Last fall, BMW shared preliminary results showing that the system had delivered on more than two dozen demand response events called by the utility.

According to Cliff Fietzek, manager of connected e-mobility at BMW North America, past experience revealed that it’s very expensive to reconfigure batteries for reuse, which is why BMW developed a plug-and-play solution for it’s home battery. “We don’t have to put any special software in or take modules out and can take advantage of all of the engineering we put into producing the car battery,” he said. “We can use the same heating and cooling system for the car battery and the same safety mechanisms … there is not too much work to be done on the integration side, which saves a lot on cost and increases flexibility.”

However, the company will have to wait to see the results of its home battery pilot programs before really knowing what the cost and return on investment is, he added.

BMW is the latest auto company to get into stationary storage. Tesla has garnered an enormous amount of attention with the launch of its energy storage business and massive battery Gigafactory. Meanwhile, Toyota,General Motors and Nissan are actively testing stationary storage solutions and looking to make larger plays. Daimler/Mercedes-Benz introduced a stationary battery business in Europe last year, and is rumored to be launching a U.S. product this fall.

Green Tech Media

Devon Gardner

THE CARIBBEAN is, within the next two or so years, to have an energy efficiency strategy that should serve the growth agenda of various islands.

To begin the work, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has secured the support of the European Union (EU).

“The EU will send a team in to work with us to identify the elements of the framework for the strategy. Having identified that framework, we will utilise a Technical Cooperation Facility (TCF) that we have with the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) as well as support that we are already getting from the GIZ to do what I refer to as investment grade analysis to identify the energy efficiency options in the various sectors across countries in the CARICOM states,” said Dr Devon Gardner, programme manager for energy with the CARICOM secretariat.

He was speaking to the Gleaner at the energy and sustainable development forum hosted by the University of the West Indies in Kingston on Tuesday.

According to Gardner, the strategy – to be developed in line with CARICOM’s five-year strategic plan for 2015 through 2019 will take account of key productive sectors (tourism, agriculture, services and the public sector) together with the electricity and transport sectors.

 

MANY DELIVERABLES

 

In the end, he said it should deliver on:

• an energy efficient building code for the region;

• energy performance standards for certain types of appliances, including refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, and lights (LED and CFLs);

• energy labelling standards for appliances that provide consumers with information and operating cost of the various devices; and

• performance standards for a number of renewable energy devices, including solar water heaters.

“What are doing is not just to understand the amount of energy savings potential, but critically it is to understand the value of the energy savings to the economy and the investment package required to pursue those opportunities if we desire,” Gardner noted.

News of the regional energy efficiency strategy comes at a time when CARICOM countries are collectively using some 13,000 Btu of energy to produce one US dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to 4,000 Btu of energy used by Japan, for example, to produce the same one US dollar of GDP and the global average of 10,000 Btu.

This is according to Gardner who said that “the region is perhaps the most inefficient in the world as regards energy efficiency.”

pwr.gleaner@gmail.com

The Gleaner

The most important piece of news on the energy front isn’t the plunge in oil prices, but the progress that is being made in battery technology. A new study in Nature Climate Change, by Bjorn Nykvist and Mans Nilsson of the Stockholm Environment Institute, shows that electric vehicle batteries have been getting cheaper much faster than expected. From 2007 to 2011, average battery costs for battery-powered electric vehicles fell by about 14 percent a year. For the leading electric vehicle makers, Tesla and Nissan, costs fell by 8 percent a year. This astounding decline puts battery costs right around the level that the International Energy Agency predicted they would reach in 2020. We are six years ahead of the curve. It’s a bit hard to read, but here is the graph from the paper:

This puts the electric vehicle industry at a very interesting inflection point. Back in 2011, McKinsey & Co. made a chart showing which kind of vehicle would be the most economical at various prices for gasoline and batteries:

Looking at this graph, we can see the incredible progress made just since 2011. Battery prices per kilowatt-hour have fallen from about $550 when the graph was made to about $450 now. For Tesla and Nissan, the gray rectangle (which represents current prices) is even farther to the left, to about the $300 range, where the economics really starts to change and battery-powered vehicles become feasible.

But in the past year, the price of gasoline has fallen as well, and is now in the $2.50 range even in expensive markets. A glut of oil, and a possible thaw in U.S.-Iran relations, have moved the gray rectangle down into the dark blue area where internal combustion engines reign supreme.

Still, if battery prices keep falling, the gray rectangle will keep moving to the left. The Swedish researchers believe that Tesla’s new factories will be able to achieve the 30 percent cost reduction the company promises, simply from economies of scale and incremental improvements in the manufacturing process. That, combined with a rebound in gas prices to the $3 range, would be enough to make battery-powered vehicles an economic alternative to internal combustion vehicles in most regions.

But this isn’t the only piece of good energy news. Investment in renewable energy is powering ahead.

The United Nations Environment Programme recently released a report showing that global investment in renewable energy, which had dipped a bit between 2011 and 2013, rebounded in 2014 to a near all-time high of $270 billion. But the report also notes that since renewable costs — especially solar costs — are falling so fast, the amount of renewable energy capacity added in 2014 was easily an all-time high. China, the U.S. and Japan are leading the way in renewable investment. Renewables went from 8.5 percent to 9.1 percent of global electricity generation just in 2014.

That’s still fairly slow in an absolute sense. Adding 0.6 percentage point a year to the renewable share would mean the point where renewables take half of the electricity market wouldn’t come until after 2080. But as solar costs fall, we can expect that shift to accelerate. In particular, forecasts are for solar to become the cheapest source of energy — at least when the sun is shining — in many parts of the world in the 2020s.

Each of these trends — cheaper batteries and cheaper solar electricity — is good on its own, and on the margin will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, with all the geopolitical drawbacks and climate harm they entail. But together, the two cost trends will add up to nothing less than a revolution in the way humankind interacts with the planet and powers civilization.

You see, the two trends reinforce each other. Cheaper batteries mean that cars can switch from gasoline to the electrical grid. But currently, much of the grid is powered by coal. With cheap solar replacing coal at a rapid clip, that will be less and less of an issue. As for solar, its main drawback is intermittency. But with battery costs dropping, innovative manufacturers such as Tesla will be able to make cheap batteries for home electricity use, allowing solar power to run your house 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So instead of thinking of solar and batteries as two independent things, we should think of them as one single unified technology package. Solar-plus-batteries is set to begin a dramatic transformation of human civilization. The transformation has already begun, but will really pick up steam during the next decade. That is great news, because cheap energy powers our economy, and because clean energy will help stop climate change.

Of course, skeptics and opponents of the renewable revolution continue to downplay these remarkable developments. The takeoff of solar-plus-batteries has only begun to ramp up the exponential curve, and market shares are still small. But it has begun, and it doesn’t look like we’re going back.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View’s editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Noah Smith at nsmith150@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net

Bloomsberg

 

KINGSTON, Jamaica –The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, & Fisheries (MICAF) has described Honey Bun’s newly-installed solar-energy system as a positive development for growth, job creation, and competitiveness.

Speaking on behalf of Minister Karl Samuda on Friday, at the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the system at Retirement Road, Kingston, Director General in the ministry, Vivian Brown, noted that the first phase of the project, with an investment of US$250,000, has already yielded a 14 per cent decrease in the company’s electricity bill.

He pointed out that lower energy prices using solar energy will not only lower the costs of individual manufacturing operations, “but taken on a wider scale, will also reduce expenses for consumers and businesses, while increasing disposable income that can be spent in other ways”.

Brown stated that the high cost of energy has for a long time been placing a strain on the Jamaican economy, and encouraged other Jamaican manufacturers to use solar energy to reduce their costs.

He noted that more Jamaican manufacturers and householders are moving towards the use of solar energy, and that this is not just a Jamaican trend. Globally, he said, there is growing awareness that increased deployment of renewable energy is critical, not just for addressing climate change, but also for creating new economic opportunities.

“As a large user of electricity, Honey Bun has seen solar power as an effective solution to reduce costs, and I believe the steps that you are taking now will position you for a much brighter future,” Brown said.

The Observer

Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Energy for All Rachel Kyte has said her organisation is ready to partner with Caribbean governments and institutions to secure a clean, affordable and reliable energy future.

She was delivering the William G. Demas Memorial Lecture at the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) 46th annual Board of Governors Meeting at the Iberostar Resort in Lilliput, St James, on Tuesday.

Sustainable Energy for All is the brainchild of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Its main objectives are ensuring universal access to modern energy services and doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

Kyte said that energy demand is not only the dominant contributor to climate change, but is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today.

She noted that there are 1.1 billion people around the world who still have little or no access to energy, and three billion who rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.

DESERVE ACCESS

“We the peoples of the UN want a planet and a future that’s not ravaged by climate change. We the peoples deserve access to affordable, clean and reliable energy and we the peoples know that the time for action is now,” she said.

Kyte noted that the impacts of climate change are being felt all around the world, particularly in the Caribbean. She added that rainfall patterns are changing, which have caused a number of islands to experience prolonged dry seasons and severely low reservoir levels.

“This severely impacts the ability of island nations to grow local crops,” she pointed out, citing loss of an estimated 2,190 hectares of crops valued at millions of dollars in Jamaica due to drought.

Kyte pointed out that the CDB has an essential role to play in providing financing for sustainable energy projects.

 

The Gleaner

 

 

 

Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Energy for All Rachel Kyte has said her organisation is ready to partner with Caribbean governments and institutions to secure a clean, affordable and reliable energy future.

She was delivering the William G. Demas Memorial Lecture at the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) 46th annual Board of Governors Meeting at the Iberostar Resort in Lilliput, St James, on Tuesday.

Sustainable Energy for All is the brainchild of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Its main objectives are ensuring universal access to modern energy services and doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

Kyte said that energy demand is not only the dominant contributor to climate change, but is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today.

She noted that there are 1.1 billion people around the world who still have little or no access to energy, and three billion who rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating.

DESERVE ACCESS

“We the peoples of the UN want a planet and a future that’s not ravaged by climate change. We the peoples deserve access to affordable, clean and reliable energy and we the peoples know that the time for action is now,” she said.

Kyte noted that the impacts of climate change are being felt all around the world, particularly in the Caribbean. She added that rainfall patterns are changing, which have caused a number of islands to experience prolonged dry seasons and severely low reservoir levels.

“This severely impacts the ability of island nations to grow local crops,” she pointed out, citing loss of an estimated 2,190 hectares of crops valued at millions of dollars in Jamaica due to drought.

Kyte pointed out that the CDB has an essential role to play in providing financing for sustainable energy projects.

The Gleaner