By the end of 2017, India will leapfrog to third position in the global solar market sweepstakes, boasting of a capacity of 18.7GW.
That's 5% of global capacity, and higher than Japan's, said India Solar Handbook 2017, a report by Bridge to India (BTI), an Indian clean energy consultancy.
“Indian solar market has grown by an average 72% in the last three years and is now worth approximately 8-9GW per annum," said Vinay Rustagi, managing director of BTI. "Growing market size and strong government commitment to the sector have attracted the world’s leading private sector players as well as resulted in lower tariffs for consumers."
India's southern states will be the prime movers in addition of solar capacity of 8.8GW this year.
In Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu, the Adani Group inaugurated the world's largest solar farm in November. The huge farm, which stretches across 10 km sq and generates 648MW of power from 2.5 million solar modules, was built in just eight months.
The vast project cost about $679 million, and its seemingly endless rows of solar panels are cleaned robotically.
Solar energy has become cheaper following the steep fall in the cost of modules and components over the past few years. Last month, French company Solairedirect SA bid a low Rs 3.15 per kWh for a 250MW solar project at Kadapa in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
That's lower than the generation cost of Rs 3.20 of NTPC Ltd, India's biggest thermal power generation utility.
In fact, offers for forthcoming solar projects at Bhadala in Rajasthan state are expected to be even lower than Solairedirect's bid, at an estimated Rs 2.90 per unit.
It was a surreal feeling for Stanford student Francisco Torrealba. Having climbed a 2,000 meter coastal cliff north of Chilean city Tocopilla, he looked out over the expanse of clouds underfoot and the vast South Pacific Ocean stretching into the horizon.
It was June 2011 and Torrealba was struck by the region’s awesome potential for large scale electricity storage in natural depressions occurring on seaside cliffs high above the inhospitable Atacama Desert.
A month later, Torrealba and fellow Stanford student Juan Andres Camus registered their fledgling company Energia Valhalla Spa - the vehicle to realize their vision of combining solar power with ‘pumped storage’ hydro-electric plants to deliver power on a continuous basis to Chile.
Helping their efforts was the plunge in the costs of solar panels and plants.
“The installation of photovoltaic panels on the surface of only 6% of the Atacama Desert would be sufficient to satisfy the entire demand for electricity in South America,” say the Valhalla founders. “However, solar energy is intermittent and is not available during Chile’s peak consumption hours which occur at around 10 pm.”
“Our company is developing pumped storage hydroelectric plants, equivalent to large “water batteries,” which will allow us to store energy in an exceptionally economic manner and also to transform solar energy into an electricity source which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” they say.
Their US$400 million project, Espejo de Tarapacá (EdT), is one of the most innovative infrastructure projects in the world and comprises a 300 MW pump hydro plant that sends seawater 600 meters up for storage in natural concavities stretching over 375 hectares (capacity equivalent to 22,000 Olympic pools and area equivalent to 500 soccer fields). These depressions are believed to be very ancient lakes that have long since dried up and are now just a desert.
The hydro pump operates on energy generated during the day by a solar plant. At night, the stored water reverses flow and gushes back down to the sea, driving hydroelectric turbines and generating power.
According to Camus, who was speaking to Reuters, the project can provide electricity continuously for nine days if the concavities are filled to capacity.
Valhalla announced last week that EdT has received environmental clearance for its project. However, approval from Chilean regulators is still awaited for the 600MW, US$500 million Cielos de Tarapaca solar panel energy project that will supply the solar energy required to operate EdT’s hydro pump.
When complete, most of EdT’s energy will be supplied to mining companies in the Iquique area in northern Chile.
Title image credit: Valhalla/latercera
On Sunday, the Aysegul Sultan, a Turkish powership, capable of generating 235MW of electricity a day, sailed into Tema, Ghana’s main port.
It received a rousing welcome because it was at least a partial answer to Ghana’s prayers for relief from the country’s crippling, 500MW power shortfall.
The Electricity Company of Ghana‚ a part of the country’s Ministry of Energy‚ has executed a 10-year power purchase agreement with Karpowership Ghana Company‚ a subsidiary of Karadeniz Holding for the delivery of two powerships that will add a total of 450MW of power to Ghana’s grid.
Turkish conglomerate Karadeniz Holdings, the only company in the world that specializes in sea-borne, ship-mounted generating stations, owns the Aysegul Sultan, which is just one of its fleet of nine such ships built under its ‘Power of Friendship’ project. These ships are said to be already operational in Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Dubai.
Another powership, the 125MW Zeynep Sultan (pictured below), will be despatched by Karadeniz to Indonesia.
The powerships are capable of operating on both heavy fuel oil and natural gas, making the cost of their power substantially less than alternatives such as Open Cycle Gas Turbines. Here’s a Karadeniz video on how these behemoths work.
South Africa, another African country battling energy shortages, may soon resort to this option according to Karadeniz, and as reported by TimesLive.
Claims Karadeniz: “South Africa currently uses Open-Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs) through the majority of the day to meet some of the excess peak demand. OCGTs run on diesel and are an expensive energy option. Karpowership can replace OCGTs and generate electricity at approximately R1.80 per Kwh all in‚ which is 22% cheaper than OCGTs. This would amount to a saving of R26 billion per year for South Africa.”
Power shortages are now appearing in developed countries too.
According to the FT, even the UK has had to turn to diesel generators in a desperate bid to alleviate the power shortage looming over the next 15 years:
“Analysis of publicly available figures shows that companies have registered to build a total of about 1.5 gigawatts of diesel power under a government scheme to encourage back-up energy for the grid…If all of those registered are successful in their bids — which analysts believe is likely — it could cost the taxpayer £436m, provide enough energy to power more than 1m homes and emit several million tonnes of carbon a year.”
Image 1 - Karadeniz
Image 2 - gmspano
Image 3 – hurriyetdailynews/DHA
How the mighty have fallen.
Gold, an investors’ darling that powered from $400 an ounce in 2003 to a high of nearly $1900 in September 2011, plunged to $1055.90 on Friday, down over 1% for the day.
Even the recent geo-political convulsions, such as the Paris terror attack and the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter jet, have failed to trigger any significant ‘safe haven’ buying in the shiny metal.
Paying the price for the US dollar’s ascendancy as the new medium of global refuge, gold has corrected approximately 45% from its September 2011 high.
The US dollar and gold have traditionally moved in inverse directions because strength in the US dollar increases the price in terms of the local currencies in key importing countries such as China and India.
The US dollar has been moving up sharply since July 2014 on global buying due to impending rate hikes being indicated by the US Fed. Apart from strengthening the dollar, higher interest rates dim the allure for gold because investors earn no interest on their gold holdings.
Recent moves by the Indian government to encourage gold holdings through the medium of bonds linked to the gold price, rather than physical metal, may also result in lower imports by India. Chinese gold demand is also expected to be muted due to the slowdown in the economy and the meltdown in its property and stock markets.
All-in-all, a storm of bearish factors is weighing on gold.
Gold mining company Atna Resources Ltd. last week filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.
“The low gold prices in 2015, the continued indifference in the market for gold company equities, a lack of capital in the mining sector, a lack of development capital and operating issues resulting in a significant shortfall in third-quarter gold production at the Pinson mine, and a depressed market for the sale of idled mining equipment all negatively impacted the company’s outlook and led to the company’s current liquidity problems,” the company said.
Images: Atna Resources Ltd.
Iron ore is sinking under the weight of unrelenting supplies from the biggest producers such as Vale, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue, even as Chinese buyers are buying smaller lots of the steel-making material amidst a slowdown in the steel manufacturing industry in the country.
The benchmark 62% Fe import price (freight and insurance included) for iron ore delivered at the Chinese port of Tianjin declined 1.8% to US$43.40 a tonne Tuesday, the lowest on record since The Steel Index started maintaining records of spot prices in November 2008.
Last month, Zhu Jimin, the deputy head of the China Iron & Steel Association, warned that domestic steel demand was falling sharply following the slowdown in the Chinese property market.
Chinese steel mills appear to be facing a perfect storm of waning demand, cratering prices and mounting losses – all this while banks have begun to tighten the screws on lending to the industry.
“Production cuts are slower than the contraction in demand, therefore oversupply is worsening,” Zhu said. “Although China has cut interest rates many times recently, steel mills said their funding costs have actually gone up.”
Iron ore prices hit a high of US$190 a tonne in February 2011.
The decline in iron ore, as well as other mined commodities, has taken a severe toll on the share prices of the major miners.
But there could be more pain ahead due to the impending commissioning within the next 12 months of fresh iron ore capacity at the Roy Hill and S11D projects in Australia and Brazil, respectively.
Photo credit: Rio Tinto (Pilbara)
August 2015 (Abandoned gold mine, USA)
The Durango and surrounding La Plata County in southern Colorado declared a state of emergency after an accidental spill of toxic wastewater from the Gold King Mine, a gold mine abandoned in 1923, contaminated the Animas River.
Source: Environment: Gold King Mine Spill Assumes Emergency Proportions
November 2015 (Samarco iron ore mine, Brazil)
Kind favor of: Buzzfeed
The toxic sludge from the Samarco dam burst reaches the Atlantic.
Kind favor of Telesurtv/Reuters
April 2015 and November 2015 (Myanmar jade mine mudslides)
Natural gas in underground storage in the Lower 48 states in the US jumped 15 billion cubic feet (bcf) during the week ended November 13, touching a record 4,000 (bcf) according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.
That’s “nearly as much gas as the US can store,” says the Wall Street Journal. Prices are locked in a long-term downtrend even as the market factors in the huge inventory build with mild weather over the near term.
December natural gas futures on the NYMEX closed Friday at $2.145, down 5.76%.
Image of natural gas facility - Bilfinger
Lucara Diamond Corp. (“Lucara” or the “Company”), a Vancouver-based diamond producer with assets in Botswana, announced the recovery of a 1,111 carat gem quality, Type IIa diamond.
The magnificent stone, which originated from the south lobe of Lucara’s Karowe Mine, is the world’s second largest gem quality diamond ever recovered and the largest ever to be recovered through a modern processing facility. The stone was recovered by the newly installed Large Diamond Recovery (“LDR”) XRT machines. The stone measures 65mm x 56mm x 40mm in size and is the largest ever to be recovered in Botswana.
William Lamb, President and CEO, said: "This historic diamond recovery puts Lucara and the Karowe mine amongst a select number of truly exceptional diamond producers. The significance of the recovery of a gem quality stone larger than 1,000 carats, the largest for more than a century and the continued recovery of high quality stones from the south lobe, cannot be overstated.”
“Our focus on mining the south lobe, which is delivering value beyond expectation, has been perfectly timed with the commissioning of our recent plant modifications, enabling the recovery of these large, high quality exceptional diamonds,” he added.
On November 18 the stock closed at C$1.1610. After the news of the diamond find hit, the stock closed the next day at C$2.10, up 30.43%. The market cap of the company zoomed $185 million.
Image source: Lucara