Monday, October 28, 2013

Blowin' in the wind

While new wind development this year won't come close to matching 2012, a study by the American Wind Energy Association found at least 22 electric utilities around the country issued requests for proposals for new wind farms during the first six months of the year and many others entered into long-term agreements to buy a combined 3,950 megawatts (MW) of new wind energy from projects across 11 states.Westar Energy in Kansas is among utilities seeking proposals. AWEA didn't include Westar in its count, however, because the utility didn't issue its RFP until late August. Westar is expected to announce selection of a partner for the new project in a week or two, said Westar spokesperson Gina Penzig."We just finished a review of the wind industry's five-year impact on state economies, including Kansas, and the results are pretty compelling," said Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA's Director of Industry Data and Analysis. "They show that the wind energy boom has benefitted the states where (the wind) is strong."Nationally, total wind energy capacity jumped nearly 140 percent between 2008 and 2012, reaching 60,009 MW. Another 1,280 MW were under construction in June.In Kansas, wind generation grew by some 233 percent over the period, going from 813 MW of power to more than 2,700 MW of current capacity.Today, wind powers the equivalent of more than 840,000 homes, the AWEA study notes, with some 11 percent of all U.S. electricity now generated from wind.Farmers turn to wind turbines

While Siemens Wind in Hutchinson experienced a mass layoff at the end of 2012 due to anticipated expiration of the federal Production Tax Credit - which gives a per kilowatt rebate to utilities buying wind from qualifying farms, thus reducing the cost of the energy - the manufacturing company has since come back nearly to full staff, thanks in large part to several new international contracts for nacelles, noted Kimberly Svaty, Kansas public policy director for the five-state Wind Coalition."We're still seeing growth and positive movement in the Kansas economy in relation to the wind industry, in both manufacturing and development," Svaty said.Siemens communications specialist Myca Welch said Siemens is "actively bidding on projects in the U.S. and abroad, and that the Hutchinson facility is currently exporting nacelles to Canada, Chili and Peru" and that the company will continue to look for additional export opportunities.Welch explained that, on average, it takes 18 to 24 months to establish a wind farm and added that the wind energy sector would benefit from an extension of the Production Tax Credit."Like other domestic energy sources, American wind power needs a predictable, stable, pro-growth tax policy," Welch said. "Extending the PTC for the longest practical term will help nurture the growth of this clean energy source and thereby grow our economy, save ratepayers money and continue to create jobs."

"I think there are two factors, particularly for Kansas, that are driving not only development of wind projects, but wind-related manufacturing in the state," Salerno said, referring to both the Hutchinson plant and other component part makers supplying Siemens.The first, she said, are graduated minimum Renewable Portfolio Standards imposed by lawmakers in numerous states. In Kansas, for example, utilities must supply at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the fourth quarter of 2016, and 20 percent by 2020 - one reason Westar is seeking new resources."Rates are coming in at 3 or 4 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)," Salerno said. "So companies are not just building projects to serve local load needs, but for outside contracts, particularly in the southeast."Those contracts for Kansas wind include agreements with: Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), which serves customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and eastern Texas; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a corporation owned by the U.S. government that provides electricity for customers in parts of seven southeastern states; and Alabama Power, which will buy the 249 MW of energy from TradeWind Energy's Buffalo Dunes project now under construction in western Kansas.

AWEA attributes the current price primarily to two factors, Salerno said. The first is the 2.2 cents per kilowatt Production Tax Credit (PTC) rebate. Congress extended the PTC in January for one year. Because of the late action on the extension (the tax expired in December 2012), rather than requiring projects be completed by the end of the year to qualify, Congress said they only must be started by then.Under an interpretation of the extension language by the Internal Revenue Service, a project may qualify for the credit if "a certain level of investment is made by year's end," Westar's Penzig said. "That will count in lieu of breaking ground." Westar's intent is for any project coming out of the RFP to qualify.After the PTC rebate, that brings a utility's actual cost for the power down to about 2 cents per kilowatt, Salerno said. And utilities are locking in that rate for 20 to 30 years under long-term contracts."That's an incredible price for any form of energy, especially for a contract that's for 20 years or more," Svaty said. "Those are very compelling numbers."Also contributing to lower power costs, Salerno said, are strides in technology related to wind turbines, blades and towers, as well as a significant portion of turbine production moving to the U.S.The lowest prices go back more than a decade, when developers built farms in only the best wind locations, Salerno explained. As the number of wind farms expanded into less than prime wind areas, costs to produce the same amount of wind rose.Improving technology, however, is now allowing as much energy to be produced at slower wind speeds as was produced in the best wind areas.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Farmers turn to wind turbines

A DRAMATIC fall in income, coupled with rising energy costs, is seeing increasing number of farmers turning to wind turbines as an additional source of revenue ahead of looming energy regulator deadlines just over two months away.All proposed new turbines need to be pre-registered with regulator Ofgem by December 31 and hundreds of farmers are now working to beat the end-ofyear deadline and benefit from the maximum available revenue.There are now more than 500 planning applications being considered by councils across the UK and figures from the leading turbine suppliers show that more than 200 farm-scale turbines could be connected to the grid by the next Feed-in Tariff (FiT) deadline in April next year as farmers seek to bolster incomes.Steve Milner, managing director of Earthmill, a specialist farm-scale wind turbine installer, said: “More and more farmers are looking beyond traditional crops to survive and the financial benefits of wind turbines for farms are becoming more widely known.“Over the last quarter, we have seen an increase in demand of more than 150 per cent for single-turbine surveys and power generation evaluations from some of the UK’s 300,000 working farms.“Impending reductions in the Government’s green energy incentives are also fuelling record demand which we anticipate will continue for the foreseeable future as a result of the current economic malaise in the farming industry. It is giving farmers the motivation to look at renewables as an additional source of revenue, especially those in dairy, pig and poultry farming where large amounts of electricity are consumed.”

After two years of poor harvests and unusually harsh weather, dramatically rising energy costs are also taking their toll on cash-strapped farmers.Mr Milner said: “Recent innovations in turbine design have improved generation levels from turbines and lifespan. Farmers who install one or two turbines on land in ideal weather locations, and with the right topography for a turbine site, can see the double benefits of energy savings and income generation that typically add up to well into five-figure sums and can top £100,000 a year in many cases.“Despite the recent upsurge in interest, currently only five per cent of UK farms have turbines, which is a fraction of those who would be suitable. As one of the windiest places in Europe, the UK and, in particular, Scotland, Wales, the West Country and the north-east, have some of the most exposed farming land, which is ideal for power generation.”Mr Milner said farmers looking at a new installation before the April reduction in the Government’s FiT incentives will gain the most as they will benefit from the new wave of super-efficient turbines that can generate more power than earlier models and also outlast them.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Top 7 reasons to go green now for a healthier, prosperous and longer life

Go green is one of the most popular phrases we use in our conversation. In newspapers, TV shows and general debate it is more than often used.
Rising level of environmental pollution and natural resource depletion has forced people to take this phrase damn seriously. Green global leaders also want each one of us go green to make planet Earth greener and safer place to live.But this term is mostly used just for the sake of showing how much aware we are. We simply condemn environmental degradation. We slam every act of polluting. But we mostly take pollution at macro level. We forget to admit how our little actions hit our natural environment and even we don’t know what we are doing.So we need to bring smaller changes in our way of living and must go green now at individual level to keep our kids safe from all types of pollution hazards. After going green it seems nice to talk hard against giant polluters and lethargy of governments to control pollution.

Go green means to be environment friendly. By adopting a green living we use things of daily use as much as we can before discarding it to generate waste. We must buy organic or natural things and avoid every type of chemical that is used for instant but harmful results. We go for things that have minimum packaging to generate less rubbish after their use. We switch to natural gas for our energy needs and consume as much lesser as possible to conserve our resources. We try to avoid every act that may harm our environment. While doing this we don’t feel we are on duty but take it as our living style and eventually we enjoy a lot with it.

If we don’t do this we will have lesser resources and people may fight with each other to grab maximum resources. It is widely predicted that next world war would be waged to grab more and more natural resources. Right now our water resources are so much scarce that out of 6.5 billion population of the world nearly 2.5 billion people are facing water shortage all across the globe. We have wasted our food resources so much so that now scientists are exploring edible insects to meet the food shortage. Before we are forced to eat unconventional food we must stand up for the cause of protecting our fast depleting natural resources. Who wants to see next world war in his life time and that too on natural resources. 

We don’t take it a normal way of living. We wrongly assume that before doing every work we need to check if it is green. We need to live like people do in ancient time. We have to avoid machines, fast affecting products and fast way of living. We fear we would lag behind others in every field. This is absolutely wrong or nonsense. If we use natural products instead of chemical ones we will grow stronger and will become more competitive. If we avoid every act that may cause pollution it will benefit us first because we will not get into its direct contact. If we use green energy we will not be inhaling smoke which we do while using conventional forms of energy. So this is our misunderstanding about green living. It is fully a natural way of living and absolutely a normal lifestyle.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Solar Car Sharing Takes off in France

Toshiba Corporation announced that it has completed construction of a car sharing system for the Lyon Confluence Smart Community Demonstration Project (Lyon, France). The system that implements Toshiba’s solar-power based electronic vehicle charge management system entered commercial operation yesterday.The Lyon Confluence district covers a total area of 150 hectares (370 ac.) in the very heart of Lyon, where rivers Rhone and Saone meet. A former industrial brownfield site located in the city center, the district is now being developed to become “one of the Europe’s flagship sustainable districts”, according to the Lyon Smart Community media kit.

This car sharing system is intended to ease traffic congestion and the lack of parking spaces in the Lyon redevelopment area, and to point the way to next generation traffic systems that will contribute to the realization of a low carbon society. This is especially important given that Lyon Confluence district is located on a peninsula served by a number of bridges. Thirty E-vehicles will be supported by each plug-in recharge station, and three quick charge stations in addition. The project will run for two years until December 2015.

The car sharing scheme has been designed to serve a variety of users and uses. Employees of firms located in the Confluence district will be able to use the fleet during the day for occasional business trips, while local residents will be able to use the car sharing system for leisure activities.

Toshiba Group’s role is to build and maintain the system and its components, including its Solar Power Generation Amount Forecasting System and Charging Schedule Optimization System that optimizes use of renewable energy as an energy source of electric vehicles. This predicts solar power generation capacity on the basis of information from weather forecasts and climate analysis, and combines this information with the status of reservations for EV sharing and data from their electrical systems, to arrive at an optimized allocation of the vehicles to users and optimal control over the electricity charge schedule of each vehicle.

Photovoltaic power generation capacity is strongly influenced by the weather and this can have a major impact on large systems based on solar energy. Further challenge is optimizing power charging system management in a car sharing service where demand for vehicles will fluctuate. Collaboration with French partner in a commercial operation will allow Toshiba group to verify the practical effectiveness of traffic systems that rely on renewable energy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Davey defends funding for 'good value' wind farms

When asked on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show if onshore wind turbines provided value for money, Davey replied: "Absolutely. They only get paid when they are generating electricity."His comments come amid an escalating row over the effect of so-called 'green levies' on energy bills. Utility SSE last week announced it was increasing prices for customers by 8.2 per cent, blaming renewable energy subsidies for a significant part of the rise and calling for a review of the government's current strategy.Several senior Conservatives, worried by Labour leader Ed Miliband's pledge to freeze energy bills from 2015 should he win the next election, are understood to be pushing for a cut to the levies, with green energy subsidies such as the Renewables Obligation and Feed-in Tariff, as well as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) domestic energy efficiency scheme, thought to be in the firing line.However, Davey insisted recent energy price rises have far more to do with the wholesale price of gas on international markets than any of these programmes."The gas price has gone up by 50 per cent over the last five years and more than 50 per cent of the bill is wholesale gas price," he said. "We have also seen a big increase in the network costs because we have got to replace the ageing network. These are costs that are impossible to avoid."And he went on to reject calls for cuts in green levies, saying it would be "silly" to remove programmes that help to cut bills by making homes more energy efficient.Arizona Residents Can Now Get Solar Power After Dark
"People have got to understand what these green taxes actually are," he said. "Most of them are actually social policies to help the fuel-poor manage their bills. I don't think we want to get rid of those. Moreover, we need to help people who aren't necessarily fuel-poor but want to do energy efficiency measures to reduce their bills. It would be silly to get rid of that aspect. If you actually look at the part of the so-called green taxes that are funding renewable energy/low-carbon energies, it's only four per cent of the bill."Even if Davey did want to cut ECO, he would be constrained by the government's promise to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016. The government's independent advisers, the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, have also warned that should the government bow to industry demands to delay energy efficiency commitments by two years it could face a judicial review.Former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne also intervened in the on-going row over the cost of green policies, arguing that the one 'green tax' to be introduced in recent years was imposed by Chancellor George Osborne in the form of the Carbon Floor Price – a measure that he argued was primarily designed to raise revenue for the Treasury.Davey also revealed the government is close to sealing a deal with French company EDF to build the UK's first nuclear reactor in a generation. An agreement is expected to be announced this week confirming EDF will be paid between £90 and £92 per megawatt hour for the power produced at the Hinkley C reactor in Somerset for 35 years, probably starting from 2023.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Arizona Residents Can Now Get Solar Power After Dark

Solar power is going to power the future; even Big Oil admits that. But before that happens, the rather important problem of energy storage needs to be solved. A large new solar plant in Arizona has found a solution: The Solana Generating Station, which has a 280 MW capacity, is the first in the nation to keep power flowing after dark. Thanks to a molten salt storage system, the plant can keep full power flowing to Arizona residents for up to six hours after the sun goes down.According to Abengoa, the plant has passed its commercial operations tests, which means it's now ready to start servicing the 70,000 or so households it's projected to power. And for Arizona, it's another milestone for a state that's made a heavy push into the solar world.“Solana is a monumental step forward in solar energy production,” Arizona Public Services President Don Brandt said in a release earlier this week. “Solana delivers important value to APS customers by generating power when the sun isn’t shining. It also increases our solar energy portfolio by nearly 50 percent. This provides a huge boost toward our goal to make Arizona the solar capital of America.”Solana is a concentrating solar power (CSP) plant, which makes it fairly novel; rather than rely on solar panels, 2,700 parabolic mirrors reflect the sun's heat onto pipes in the mirrors' trough which contain a synthetic oil. The oil, which can reach temperatures of 735 degrees Fairenheit, carries the sun's heat to steam boilers, which produce enough steam to power a pair of 140 MW turbines.

Steam turbines are common enough in power production, but the real trick is in the system's ability to store that heat and release it after dark. The heat transferring oil doesn't just go to boil water. It's also diverted to a molten salt storage facility featuring six pairs of hot and cold salt tanks, containing a max total of 125,000 metric tons of salt that is kept at a minimum of 530 degrees.After dark, heat from that system is bled back into the heat transfer fluid, which brings the stored heat to boilers. In tests earlier this week, the system successfully kept the plant's production at full capacity for six hours after dark. As great as it is for Arizona and Abengoa, it's a win for the Department of Energy as well, which guaranteed $1.45 billion worth of loans for the project.

Storage has been one of solar power's biggest problems, and until batteries stop sucking, photovoltaics will remain beholden to the sun. It's not just after dark, either; with both photovoltaics and wind power, fluctuations in solar or wind intensity are difficult to smooth out. But with a molten salt storage system, the occasional cloud can be compensated for.That's one reason concentrated solar power has begun to take off, especially in the form of large solar projects. Abu Dhabi has a 100 MW CSP plant up and running, and India is planning a positively gargatuan 4,000 MW plant. California will soon be home to a plant larger that Solana; the Ivanpah plant is slowly being connected to the grid, and will eventually total 392 MW of capacity. While solar in the US still has a long way to go to compete with fossil fuels, the success of large capacity projects is the latest sign that renewables are indeed winning.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Solar challenge draws cars built neither for comfort nor for speed

If you're travelling any part of the 3000km stretch between Darwin and Adelaide in the next few days, don't be alarmed if you see what appears to be alien reconnaissance craft cruising the roads.An array of futuristic vehicles with the sunlight dancing upon their saucer-like tops are taking part in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a marathon north-south trek across the red heart of Australia undertaken by 40 teams.As the name suggests, all of the cars involved in the race must be powered by electricity generated from the sun. Organisers say they welcome "lateral thinking" in designs, hence the car that has a coating so aerodynamic that dirt doesn't stick to it, thereby avoiding that perilous moment when you have to guide what looks like a shiny door wedge on wheels through the car wash."One of the unique aspects of the event is that we don't prejudge people's ability, we have a class of cars where the only expectation is that you bring your enthusiasm," Chris Selwood, the event director, told Guardian Australia.The enthusiasm will be provided by competitors from 23 countries, including a team of native Americans from a tribal reservation in Mississippi, which excelled in a similar race in the US before heading to Australia."The on-road component is a big adventure and it's exciting," Selwood said. "But essentially this is a design competition to find the world's most efficient electric car."Saint Louis Zoo Installs Solar Power System

The race component, which lasts for four days, has strict rules. The harsh Australian sun could, theoretically, keep the cars running 24 hours a day so a timeframe of 8am to 5pm is set for driving hours.To ensure that the vehicles run on energy derived from the sun throughout the journey, solar cars are allowed a nominal 5kW of stored energy to run off, around 10% of normal total capacity. They then get as far as they can in the available time, often 600km to 700km, before setting up camp in the outback for the night."Early in the morning they'll run off stored energy, mid-morning there will be a balance point of stored energy and energy from the sun and then the middle of the day they will be storing energy as well as using it," Selwood said."It's a unique position to go down the Stuart highway in these cars. There are 140-tonne road trains but it's a lightly populated road with straight lines of 40km at a time. Australia's the best place to come out and play with solar car."Selwood admits the cars aren't built with "the comfort of the driver in mind" but adds the "real heroes" are the people who devise the energy capture and storage.Long term, this unusual vehicular challenge aims to demonstrate the viability of solar energy as an option for transport. While the popularity of rooftop solar panels has soared among Australian households in recent years, cars, buses and trains are yet to make the switch to solar-powered electricity in large numbers."Of course, if you are travelling from Brunswick to the CBD of Melbourne, you probably wouldn't want a huge solar panel on your roof – you'd generally have them on your garage," Selwood said. "If there was the political will, we'd be driving solar cars around our cities now because of the benefits in maintenance. But politicians are too wedded to the status quo."At some point, society will have to make the choice between being powered by brown coal or being powered by solar."