Australia Slashes Its Renewable Target to 33 TWh. The parliament of coal-rich Australia on June 23 approved legislation to slash the country’s Renewable Energy Target from 41 TWh to 33 TWh. The contentious bill passed after a compromise agreement in May (see “Australian Lawmakers Strike RET Deal” in POWER’s July 2015 issue). Australia’s RET, which has been in operation since 2001, was increased in 2010 to require that about 20% of the nation’s then-projected demand in 2020 would be met by renewables. The target had come under scrutiny, drawing the ire of industry and drying up investments in the renewables sector. In June, the Energy Supply Association of Australia welcomed the passage of the law, saying “there is now a greater chance of the scheme being able to deliver its target, but that major electricity market challenges remain.”

European Parliament Approves ETS Reform. The Environment Committee of the European Parliament in June approved a reform of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that will reduce the surplus of carbon credits available for trading in an attempt to support the price of the emission rights. The program will begin in January 2019 instead of 2021, as proposed by the European Commission. Essentially, the proposed law would create a system that automatically takes a portion of ETS allowances off the market and into a reserve if the surplus exceeds a certain threshold. The current surplus is estimated at more than two billion.

One Asia Plans 1.2-GW Gas Complex in Vietnam. One Asia Development Thailand on May 22 signed a deal with representatives of Vietnam’s Quang Tri province for a 1.2-GW gas-fired plant worth $2.4 billion. Power from the project will ensure electricity supply for Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, the company said. The energy complex would use domestic gas from offshore fields. Construction is expected to start in 2017 and to be completed in 2019.

J-POWER Commissions First Unit of 1.6-GW Gas Project. Japan’s J-POWER in June commissioned the first 800-MW unit of its 1,600-MW U-Thai combined cycle gas turbine power project in Thailand’s Ayutthaya province. A second 800-MW unit is slated to come online in December 2015. The project was awarded to Gulf JP, a 90%-owned subsidiary of J-Power, during the 2007 IPP Bid of Thailand.

Alstom Signs Two Biomass Contracts in the UK. Alstom has signed two contracts with Danish power plant specialist Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC) for geared reaction steam turbines (GRT) to be used in two UK biomass projects. The first contract uses a 23-MW GRT for a waste wood combined-heat-and-power biomass plant in Widnes, Merseyside, that is being developed by BWSC and UK logistics company Stobart Group, while the second is a 50-MW GRT for the Snetterton Biomass Plant, in East Anglia, which will burn energy crops such as straw, cereals, and oilseed rape. ■

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor.