Floods stress Brazil energy sector vulnerability

  • : Electricity
  • 24/05/10

Record flooding in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state over the past week underscores vulnerabilities in the country's energy system to extreme weather, which could also slow its pace of transition to cleaner energies.

Nearly one week after record rainfall began flooding the state, power outages continue to plague it, with nearly 400,000 residents still in the dark.

The flooding forced companies to suspend operations of critical infrastructure for the power sector, including three substations, 25 transmission lines, six hydroelectric plants and 11 power transformers. This led grid operator ONS to import power from Uruguay to meet domestic demand.

With forecasts pointing to more rain, it is increasingly clear that it will take weeks if not months for the state to start returning to normal. The Rio Grande do Sul government estimates that the floods will cost the state R19bn ($3.6bn).

The tragedy in southern Brazil comes less than a year after a record drought struck the Amazon basin, which pushed water levels of the Amazon River and its tributaries to their lowest in 120 years. The drought reduced hydroelectric output from the region's plants and interrupted transport of fuel along key river corridors, leaving many households without power, because of the lack of diesel to operate generators used in off-grid communities.

These crises highlight the country's failure to prepare for extreme weather and underscore the lack of investment in critical infrastructure, including in the energy sector. A study by the World Bank from 2023warned of the need to upgrade the country's aging infrastructure and of future power supply risks.

Brazil's large hydroelectric plants have been operating for an average of 55 years, according to the study, and need investments to boost efficiency and to limit the impact of extreme weather. A total of 11 hydroelectric plants in Rio Grande do Sul are being monitored, including six that present an elevated risk of rupture, such as the 28MW 14 de Julho plant that experienced a partial rupture last week because of the heavy rains.

Authorities will now need to change their focus, which has been largely on limiting the impact of dry weather on the electricity sector, especially following the 2021 droughts, that resulted in expansion of thermoelectric generation.

More recently, electricity regulator Aneel has been focusing on making power distribution and transmission networks more resilient to extreme weather, especially after downed power lines resulted in extended blackouts for some 4mn consumers in the city of Sao Paulo and over 1.3mn consumers in Rio de Janeiro. The sector is working to make transmission towers more resilient to high winds.

Several cities and states in Brazil have launched plans to prepare for climate change, but the bulk of these plans focus on increasing investments in renewable energy and emissions reduction. Increasingly, these plans will also need to focus on mitigating risk from floods, heat waves and landslides.

Brazilian energy companies are also behind the curve in their preparations for climate change. Only 13pc of executives in the energy sector that participated in a recent survey conducted by consulting firm PwC Brasil said they have assessed the impact of climate change on their financial planning.

State of climate

Brazil faced 12 extreme climate events in 2023, according to the World Meteorological Association (WMO). This included a tropical cyclone that hit Rio Grande do Sul last year and affected more than 340,000 people and left nearly 50 dead.

The WMO blamed the extreme climate events in Brazil on the "double-whammy of El Niño and longer-term climate change." Last year, eight Brazilian states recorded their lowest July-to-September rainfall in over 40 years, it said.


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24/06/14

Japan steps up effort to lower floating wind power cost

Japan steps up effort to lower floating wind power cost

Osaka, 14 June (Argus) — Japan is stepping up efforts to lower overall costs for offshore floating wind power generation, which can play a key role in boosting the country's renewable energy supplies. Japan's trade and industry ministry Meti and state-owned research institute Nedo said on 11 June that they have decided to support two pilot projects that will seek to bring down the overall costs for offshore floating wind power generation. Nedo plans to provide around ¥85bn ($539.8mn) from its green innovation fund over seven fiscal years from April 2024 to 31 March 2031. A consortium of nine Japanese companies led by Marubeni Offshore Wind Development, a wholly owned subsidiary of Japanese trading house Marubeni, has won a public tender to set up a project around 25km offshore south of Akita prefecture. The consortium plans to install two floating wind power facilities with capacity of over 15MW, targeting for operations to begin around autumn of 2029. Another consortium of five Japanese firms led by engineering firm C-Tech, a group company of utility Chubu Electric Power, is planning to build a floating power generator with over 15MW of capacity offshore Aichi prefecture. The projects assume relatively large capacity deployments of more than 10MW and aim to establish commercial technology for offshore wind to become globally competitive cost-wise by 2030. The project winners should set a cost target, referencing the US' cost target of $0.045/kWh by 2035, according to the government's wind power auction guidelines. This cost reduction is needed to accelerate a rollout of floating wind power facilities and help Japan achieve its 2050 net zero emission goal. Japan's purchase cost for electricity generated by offshore floating power facilities is set at ¥36/kWh for the April 2024-March 2025 fiscal year under the country's feed-in-tariff and feed-in-premium schemes. This can be compared with the lowest contract price of ¥3/kWh for bottom-fixed offshore wind projects in the latest public auction in December 2023, with the auction having secured a total of around 1.8GW bottom-fixed offshore wind capacity. Japan is aiming to install 23.6GW of wind power capacity by 2030, including 5.7GW offshore and 17.9GW onshore. It is eyeing the development of offshore wind farms, especially by promoting floating technology, given the country's geographical constraints. Tokyo aims to have offshore wind projects of 10GW by 2030 and 30-45GW by 2040. Tokyo has agreed to new legislation that will allow wind power facilities to be built in its exclusive economic zone, beyond its territorial and internal waters regulated under current laws, while striving to protect the marine environment. It is aiming to pass the amended legislation in an ordinary parliament session that will end on 23 June. Japan is under pressure to boost renewable power capacity to spur decarbonisation because the future of its nuclear industry is still unclear. But rising intermittent output from renewables will also prompt the country's power producers to secure sufficient thermal power capacity, including gas and coal, to help adjust power imbalances. Tokyo aims to generate 41pc of its electricity from thermal fuels in the April 2030-March 2031 fiscal year, which is higher than 36-38pc for renewables, under its current basic energy policy, which is due for a review this year. By Motoko Hasegawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Inpex invests in Australian solar, battery project


24/06/14
24/06/14

Inpex invests in Australian solar, battery project

Tokyo, 14 June (Argus) — Japanese upstream firm Inpex has decided to invest in a hybrid solar and battery project in the Australian state of New South Wales, aiming to boost its renewable energy business abroad. Inpex reached a final investment decision on the Quorn Park Hybrid project in Australia, a joint venture project with Italian utility Enel's wholly-owned Australian renewable energy firm Enel Green Power Australia (EGPA), the Japanese firm announced on 14 June. The project consists of solar farm construction and power generation with a photovoltaic and battery system. Batteries are usually a necessary back-up power source to stabilise power grids that utilise renewable energy. The project aims to produce around 210GWh/yr from solar power with around 40MWh/yr from battery storage, according to EGPA, with an operational capacity of around 98MW for solar and 20MW for battery. The firms plan to start construction during the second half of 2024, before it starts commercial operations during the first half of 2026, according to an Inpex representative that spoke to Argus . The Japanese firm did not disclose the investment amount but the investment value for construction of the project is estimated at "over $190mn", according to EGPA's website. Inpex bought a 50pc stake in EGPA in July 2023, with an aim of expanding its renewable generation portfolio. The firm regards Australia as a "core area" for boosting its renewable energy business, according to Inpex. By Yusuke Maekawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

UK political parties repeat existing stances on energy


24/06/13
24/06/13

UK political parties repeat existing stances on energy

London, 13 June (Argus) — The two main UK political parties have set out their plans, including on energy and climate change, with just three weeks until the general election. Energy security and the cost to consumers is a recurring theme for both, but the manifestos present some marked differences in approach to the energy transition. Both the incumbent Conservative and opposition Labour parties doubled down on existing positions in their respective manifestos. The Conservative party said that it remains committed to the UK's 2050 net zero emissions target, but promises a "pragmatic and proportionate" route. The party's manifesto guarantees "no new green levies or charges while accelerating the rollout of renewables". The UK's net zero goal is legally-binding, and was passed with significant cross-party support under a Conservative government in 2019. The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, and fielded five prime ministers in that time. Recent polling data show a substantial lead for Labour, which performed well at local elections in May. Labour placed strong focus on the opportunity the transition offers, saying that it would place the UK at the "forefront of climate action by creating the green jobs of the future at home and driving forward the energy transition on the global stage". The party has committed to zero-carbon power by 2030, although it would "maintain a strategic reserve of gas power stations to guarantee security of supply", it said. The Conservative manifesto reiterates the party's plans to build new gas-fired power plants. The party had previously committed to a decarbonised power grid by 2035, in line with a G7 pledge, although that is not mentioned in its manifesto. The two main parties clearly diverge on their approaches to North Sea oil and gas production. The Conservatives aim to keep the windfall tax — which effectively results in a 75pc rate — on oil and gas producers in place "until 2028-29, unless prices fall back to normal sooner". Labour confirmed plans to lift the rate to 78pc and run the tax until the end of the next parliament, which is likely to be mid-2029. Labour is also clear that it "will not revoke existing licences" in the North Sea, but it will not issue any new licences — for oil, gas or coal. The Conservatives restated the party's aim to legislate for annual North Sea licensing rounds . Both parties back nuclear energy, including small modular reactors — though those are unlikely to be operational until after 2030. And both pledge to cut planning bureaucracy and tackle grid connections. Labour's plans to "double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030" would result in installed capacity of 31GW, 48GW and 59GW, respectively, from a baseline of end-2023. The Conservatives' target to triple offshore wind by the end of the next parliament would put installed capacity at 44GW in 2029 — below the 50GW target for 2030 set in 2022 — while it said it supports solar and onshore wind in some circumstances. Finance in focus Both parties are keen to pull in private-sector investment, while Labour took up an original Conservative pledge to "make the UK the green finance capital of the world". And both pledge to address the cost of energy for consumers — Labour through local power generation projects and home insulation upgrades, and the Conservatives by ruling out any further "green levies". The latter plans to reverse London's expansion of the ultra-low emissions zone — originally planned by Conservative then-mayor and later prime minister Boris Johnson. Labour said that it would restore a phase-out date of 2030 for new internal combustion engine cars — which prime minister Rishi Sunak in September pushed back to 2035 . On an international level, both parties mention climate leadership at summits such as UN Cops. The Conservatives pledged to "ring-fence" the UK's climate finance commitments, while Labour committed to restore development spending to 0.7pc of gross national income "as soon as fiscal circumstances allow". By Georgia Gratton Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Forecast heatwave for Japan’s Tohoku to boost power use


24/06/13
24/06/13

Forecast heatwave for Japan’s Tohoku to boost power use

Osaka, 13 June (Argus) — An unusual heatwave may hit north Japan's Tohoku region in the second half of June, which would encourage utilities in the area to maximise available thermal power units to meet expected increased electricity demand for cooling. The Japan Meteorological Agency on 13 June published its forecast that the Tohoku area, along with south Japan's Okinawa region, will experience extremely high temperatures for this time of the year over 19-27 June with more than a 30pc probability of this occurring. The short-term outlook follows Tohoku having already faced tighter electricity supplies this week because of hotter than normal weather and the absence of nearly 5GW of thermal power capacity, comprising 2.85GW of coal-fired and 2GW of gas-fired capacity, for maintenance checks and repairs. The reduced coal-fired capacity includes the unexpected and extended shutdown of the technical problem-affected 1GW Haramachi No.2 unit, which is expected to be off line over 21 May-29 July, according to a power plant operational status notice by the Japan Electric Power Exchange (Jepx). Tohoku utilities lifted coal-fired generation to an average of 4.08GW during 10-12 June, up by 3pc from a week earlier, according to nationwide transmission system operator the Organisation for Cross-regional Co-ordination of Transmission Operators (Occto). Gas-fired output rose by 9pc to average 4.03GW, while oil-fired generation increased by 25pc to average 138MW during the period. Utilisation of coal-fired and gas-fired generation units reached an average of 78pc and 65pc respectively across 10-12 June, with oil-fired units at 23pc, according to an Argus survey based on Occto output data and operational power capacity provided by Jepx. Occto has ordered the Tepco Power Grid to supply electricity to the Tohoku Electric Power Network to avoid possible outages in the Tohoku area. Tohoku plans to secure up to 550MW for 3.30-5pm and 500MW for 5-8pm Japan time on 13 June. This followed Occto's similar order to Tepco to send to Tohoku up to 300MW for 6-7pm on 11 June and 300MW for 5.30-7pm on 12 June. The power reserve level in the Tohoku area was 2.82pc for 5.30-6pm on 13 June, below a minimum 3pc level necessary for any emergencies such as a spike in peak power demand and an unexpected shutdown of power plants. By Motoko Hasegawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Australia’s Beach records first gas at Enterprise field


24/06/13
24/06/13

Australia’s Beach records first gas at Enterprise field

Sydney, 13 June (Argus) — Australian independent Beach Energy said it has achieved the first gas at its Enterprise field in Victoria state's Otway basin. The first sales gas was delivered on 12 June, Beach said, following the field's final approval from the state government last week The nearshore field has proved and probable reserves of 161PJ (4.3bn m³) and was discovered in 2021 near the western Victorian town of Port Campbell. Beach holds a gas sales agreement with domestic utility Origin Energy for supplies from Enterprise until the end of 2026, which was signed in October-December 2023 but volumes have not been specified. The announcement comes as the federal government scrambles to secure supplies for Australia's east coast gas users . Federal energy minister Chris Bowen announced on 13 June a new supply deal with Walloons, part of Shell's Queensland-based gas division QGC, which services domestic customers and exports through its 8.5mn t/yr Queensland-Curtis LNG project. Bowen said 40PJ will be made available for gas-fired power generation between now and 2027 as a result of the enforceable supply commitment, which he said brings the total volume secured through Canberra's gas market code of conduct to more than 600PJ since last year . This is the equivalent of enough gas to power east coast gas-fired generation for six years, he added. The Australian Energy Market Operator has confirmed the supply commitments have pushed back projected shortfalls by two years to 2028. But this could be dependent on weather and coal-fired utilities' availability with expectations of LNG imports into southern Australia later this decade. By Tom Major Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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