- 8.5/10 Brits Want More Clean Energy
- Putting Garbage to Use: Microsoft Will Use Methane Emissions from Landfill Emissions as Fuel
- Clapping with One Hand: IEA Applauds Clean, Renewable Energy Progress, Urges Energy Officials to Move Faster
- ALEC on a Collision Course with Air Force over Renewable Energy
- CODA & Great Wall Motors Working Together on Affordable EV
- Smog-Eating Architectural Panels
- 23 National Energy, Private & Public Sector Leaders Make UN Sustainable Energy for All Commitments
- Meygen Marine Tidal Power Environmental Impact Assessment Moves Forward
- ADB Solar Energy Initiative Funding for Reliance Power’s 100-MW Solar Thermal Power Project in Rajasthan
- How Californians are Getting Cheap Renewable Energy
Posted: 27 Apr 2012 07:00 AM PDT
… and what the heck is up with the other 1.5 out of 10?!
Also, showing the country’s extreme dislike for natural gas, while 85% of UK residents want more clean domestic energy, only 2% want more natural gas capacity! (Could it be the earthquakes?)
“Two thirds of people want more of their electricity to come from our wind, sun and sea — which the UK has huge supplies of — and just 2% of people back more gas,” Friends of the Earth, which commissioned the poll, writes.
“The poll marks the launch of our Clean British Energy campaign, backed by Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden.”
Currently, 9.5% of British electricity comes from renewable resources.
Photo: UK wind turbines via shutterstock
Posted: 27 Apr 2012 06:00 AM PDT
Microsoft is conjuring plans to power a data center with the renewable fuel emitted by landfills: biogas. Microsoft would construct its own power plant, which would then use that gas to generate electricity to power its data centers. This would be achieved using fuel cells.
This is reminiscent of the landfill-powered factory that S.C. Johnson set up. The usage of rubbish, and other forms of waste, such as decaying sewage, can and will help to attain the goal of energy independence, as well as increased sustainability.
We don’t write about biogas a lot here on CleanTechnica. In case you didn’t know, biogas is very similar to natural gas. Natural gas is 95% methane. Biogas consists mostly of methane and carbon dioxide.
Methane is one gas that is produced by waste in, literally, all countries in the world. Not only is the gas free (when produced by decaying landfills and sewage), but using it would actually reduce the release of methane into the environment (an important cause of global warming) by converting it partially into carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide is not as potent a greenhouse gas as methane, so burning methane, which results in mostly water and carbon dioxide emissions, is expected to have a net negative effect on global warming (as in, it will decrease warming relative to simply emitting methane on its own).
Microsoft’s Biogas-Powered Data Center
Microsoft plans to build its data center at the site of the landfill or wastewater treatment plant it wants to procure biogas from, rather than take it from a biogas pipeline.
It says that this project is to not only avoid the pollution its data center would normally cause if powered by the electricity grid (which is partly powered by fossil fuels), but also to increase its reliability. This would enable the company to avoid power supply interruptions from grid malfunctions caused by automobile accidents, overloading, and age-related failures.
Microsoft will first test a small-scale prototype, and is trying to find a methane-emitting site for this.
Posted: 27 Apr 2012 05:54 AM PDT
International Energy Agency (IEA), in its latest annual report, also says that they are not being deployed fast enough.Applauding the progress being made in developing and deploying renewable energy and clean technologies, the
Presented to energy ministers, secretaries and members of leading private and public sector renewable energy and clean tech organizations at the 3rd Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in London, the IEA, in its “Tracking Clean Energy Progress” report, highlights rapidly growing use of renewable energy and clean technologies in nations around the world. It concludes, however, that progress isn’t fast enough to meet international targets for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, mitigating climate change and thereby providing a secure energy system.
Rapid Progress to Date Not Rapid Enough
According to the IEA’s clean energy report, onshore wind power has grown at an average annual 27% rate in the past decade. Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy has grown at a 42% CAGR (constant annual growth rate). During the past three years, the IEA notes, overall solar PV systems costs have been reduced 75% in some countries.
While these provide substantial evidence that given the right mix of public and private sector incentives and regulations, societies are capable of making a rapid transition away from fossil fuel to clean, renewable energy, progress to date isn’t happening fast enough to avoid the effects rapid, human-induced climate change are likely to bring about, the IEA states.
The IEA urged government energy agency leaders and other CEM attendees to pursue “aggressive policy action to take full advantage of the benefits offered by clean energy technologies.” IEA Ambassador Jones emphasized the pivotal role the 23-nation CEM organization can play in doing so.
Nearly half of all new coal-fired power plants under construction are still being built with inefficient emissions and environmental protection technology, while the rate of investment in developing carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) is similarly insufficient. Likewise, “vehicle fuel efficiency improvement is slow, and significant untapped energy-efficiency potential remains in the building and industry sectors,” according to the IEA report.
IEA Recommendation #1: Level the Energy Production Playing Field
The IEA makes three overarching clean energy policy recommendations in order to further boost clean, renewable energy development and adoption:
Posted: 27 Apr 2012 05:09 AM PDT
The ALEC story has been migrating from the lobbying group’s role in controversial voter ID and “Stand Your Ground” gun legislation over to CleanTechnica territory, with news that the organization has been planning to thwart renewable energy goals on the state level. That’s where things could really start to get interesting, because ALEC’s determination to undercut state standards for renewable energy puts it at odds with the energy security goals of the U.S. Air Force, and for that matter the entire Department of Defense.
ALEC and renewable energy
The news that ALEC has been lobbying aggressively against renewable energy will come as no surprise to regular readers of Clean Technica. More than two years ago, we noted that ALEC had recruited 90 state legislators to challenge the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions at the federal level. Partly as a result of that effort, the Obama Administration’s greenhouse gas initiatives ran out of steam and now the battle has turned to the states.
One gigawatt of renewable energy for the U.S. Air Force
Despite the pushback in the civilian sector, the U.S. military has been moving full speed ahead to break its dependence on fossil fuels. Just last week, the Air Force announced that it is on target to meet its goal of generating 1 gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) of renewable energy by 2016. Only about six percent of the Air Force’s energy comes from renewable sources right now, but by 2025 that is expected to jump to 25 percent.
Solar power, biofuels and the Air Force
Nellis Air Force base is an Air Force showcase for renewable energy, with a 14 megawatt solar array that is still the largest of its kind in North America. The base is also home to the legendary Thunderbirds aerial team, which has been showcasing the use of a high performance 50-50 biofuel blend at public demonstrations over the past year.
A military market for renewable energy
Like other branches of the armed services, most notably the Army, the Air Force plans to expand its use of renewables through partnerships with private companies, and that’s where ALEC could work some real mischief. For private companies to succeed, there needs to be a robust, growing renewable energy industry in the U.S., and in order for that to come about quickly and efficiently, there needs to be a predictable legislative framework.
For an example of how that dynamic has already begun to play out on the state level, take a look at Wisconsin. That state was thisclose to forging a framework for wind power development that involved dozens of stakeholders working together for more than a year, when a new group of legislators swept into office and abruptly cancelled the effort. The result has been a withering wind industry in Wisconsin, while other states are forging ahead.
A renewable future for the U.S.A.
On the other hand, if there is going to be some head-butting between ALEC and the armed services, I’d go with the troops. The Air Force alone has 131 wind, solar geothermal and landfill gas projects under way at 56 different facilities, with another 50 well along in the pipeline and 21 more in the planning stages.
For that matter, a while back the Department of Defense estimated that its lands have enough geothermal potential to provide for all of its needs, with plenty left over for the civilian sector.
ALEC has been a powerful influence since its inception in the 1970′s, but perhaps this time the organization has bitten off more than it can chew.
Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Posted: 27 Apr 2012 04:30 AM PDT
Electric vehicle and advanced battery company CODA has partnered with Great Wall Motors Company “to co-develop the first all-electric vehicle for worldwide development and distribution.” The companies intend to make it the most affordable commercially available EV. Pretty ambitious goal.
CODA and Great Wall Motors announced that they had a signed a contract this week, and noted that the new EV would “blend CODA's leading battery technology, knowledge of the US market and deep experience with global joint ventures with the expertise of China's fastest growing and most profitable automotive producer.”
This will be CODA’s second vehicle.
“Products will be developed by employees of both companies in their research facilities in LA and Baoding, China. Vehicles will be sub-assembled in Great Wall's manufacturing facilities in Baoding. Final assembly of US destined vehicles will take place in Coda's facility in the US.”
Posted: 27 Apr 2012 04:00 AM PDT
“Introduced in 2011, EcoClean was developed by Alcoa scientists through a process that leverages patented HYDROTECT™ technology to apply a titanium dioxide coating, called EcoClean, to the pre-painted aluminum surface of Alcoa's Reynobond architectural panels,” Alcoa writes.
“The coating works with natural sunlight, acting as a catalyst to break down organic pollutants on its surface and in the air around it into harmless matter which is then washed away by rainwater. Ten thousand square feet of EcoClean has the smog removal power of approximately 80 trees, equivalent to offsetting the nitrogen oxide created by the pollution output of four cars per day.”
Images via Alcoa
Posted: 27 Apr 2012 03:32 AM PDT
Gathering in London for the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), energy ministers, and secretaries, from 23 governments around the world joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon's Sustainable Energy for All program (SE4All) in committing to promote improved energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies and increased energy access around the world.
The 23 nations participating in the third CEM account for 90% of global clean energy investment. Two years in the making, participating countries and private sector leaders pledged to support the goal of sustainable energy for all by 2030, the primary objective of the UN’s SE4All initiative, according to the Dept. of Energy’s report.
SE4All’s Three Primary Goals
SE4All has three “synergistic” objectives for 2030, and a fourth category of “cross-cutting commitments” to “accelerate progress on all three objectives simultaneously.”
Sixteen CEM governments participating in the “Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment” (SEAD) committed to continue improving the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment, according to a CEM summary. Cooperation through SEAD can reduce energy consumption enough to avoid the need to build more than 650 mid-sized power plants by 2030, saving billions of dollars of investment while reducing cumulative carbon dioxide emissions by 11 billion metric tons from 2010-2030, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s study.
CEM governments also announced major efforts to accelerate adoption of renewable energy resources and other low-carbon forms of energy.
CEM participants also announced wide-ranging multinational public-private sector initiatives to “catalyze self-sustaining market solutions to quickly address critical energy needs”:
Cross-cutting initiatives agreed to at the third CEM include:
Posted: 27 Apr 2012 12:09 AM PDT
European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) site to assess their effect on marine life before they are approved for installation at the project site.Sponsor and developer of the world’s largest marine tidal power project announced to date, Meygen’s contracted Norway’s Kongsberg Maritime (KM) to carry out underwater noise studies for its 400-MW project in Scotland’s Pentland Firth. KM will measure and monitor noise levels from prototype Meygen tidal turbines at a
KM’s also helping MeyGen monitor progress of turbine suppliers’ trials at EMEC in Orkney. "The results of the underwater noise impact studies being carried out by Kongsberg Maritime at Emec will affect how the devices are positioned on the seabed [at the MeyGen project site] to deliver optimum power while having minimal impact on marine life,” Recharge News quoted KM's general manager for offshore, David Shand.
“Crown Jewel” of Scotland’s Marine Tidal Resource Base
A joint venture between investment bank Morgan Stanley, independent power company International Power and marine tidal technology provider Atlantis Resources, Meygen’s moving forward with plans to install a 20-MW pilot installation of marine tidal turbines from Atlantis Resources and Rolls-Royce-TGL (Tidal Generation Ltd.) at the Pentland Firth site. Overall project completion is slated for 2020.
The underwater noise studies are a big part of the Meygen project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) and consenting processes. The project’s EIA will span the entire project development process, spanning the environmental impacts of the marine tidal power generation array to the substation connections to the UK national electricity grid.
MeyGen’s produced an EIA scoping document as per Scottish regulations for Phase I of the project. The EIA scoping document is meant to ensure Meygen’s EIA process is comprehensive and conforms with Scottish environmental protection regulations.
In it, Meygen states it will “conduct a preliminary review of the environmental baseline and risks which require more detailed assessment and provide a framework for consultation and identify the relevant regulatory bodies and statutory and non-statutory stakeholders.”
Posted: 26 Apr 2012 10:42 PM PDT
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will lend India’s Reliance Power $103 million to help finance a 100-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant that is to be built adjacent to the 40-MW Dahanu solar photovoltaic (PV) farm in Rajasthan, the ADB announced April 24. Reliance’s Rajasthan CSP project is ADB’s first CSP financing, as well as one of India’s largest solar power projects.
“This 100-megawatt plant will help meet growing energy demand in India, in a way that avoids emission of harmful greenhouse gases,” said Michael Barrow, director in ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department. “We hope that the success of this project will spur others to invest in the solar energy sector, which has massive potential in India.”
Reliance’s Growing CSP Project Portfolio
Reliance estimates that the Rajasthan CSP plant will avoid more than 250,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year compared a coal-fired power plant of equivalent capacity. Due to be completed in May, 2013, the project will cost around $415 million to build. Other bilateral agencies and local lenders are providing the remainder of the project’s construction cost.
This latest project is Reliance’s second utility-scale CSP project announced in Rajasthan. It recently awarded Areva Solar a contract to build Asia’s largest CSP installation in the western India province, a 250-MW project comprised of two 125-MW CSP plants using linear fresnel reflector technology, the Economic Times of India reported April 13.
Reliance was one of the project bidders chosen by the Indian government to develop 470-MW of CSP solar power projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM). As per the NSM, India intends to have 2-GW of solar power capacity installed by 2013, 10-GW by 2017 and 20-GW by 2022.
International lenders and foreign governments, including the US Export-Import Bank, are playing a large part in supporting financing of solar power projects as India works to realize NSM goals. The fourth-largest energy consumer in the world, coal-fired power plants provide 65% of India’s electricity supply.
Can India Reach its National Solar Mission Goals?
Large-scale, centralized and capital-intensive, Indian banks’ have committed a large portion of the maximum amount of capital they can by Indian regulations lend to the power industry to financing the building of coal-fired power plants. Those loans have them bumping up against a 15% cap on lending to the power industry, S. Vishvanathan, the CEO of SBI Capital Markets, the investment banking arm of the State Bank of India was quoted in a Bloomberg News report.
“A shortfall in commercial project finance could stall the solar industry in India, one of the biggest growth markets, adding to the woes of panel makers like First Solar Inc. (FSLR) and Suntech Power Holdings Co. which are looking to India and China to offset plummeting sales in Europe,” according to Bloomberg’s report.
Supranational agencies such as the ADB are stepping in to bridge the gap. India will need at least $3.2 billion of debt finance in the next three years to complete already announced solar projects, the ADB estimates. Under its Asian Solar Energy Initiative, ADB intends to commission or support installation of 3-GW of solar power capacity in developing member countries by May, 2013.
Posted: 26 Apr 2012 07:00 PM PDT
How often we hear of a nuclear plant or a coal plant having been delayed, and with cost overruns, for which the ratepayer must foot the bill. But those projects plow on, costing more and taking longer, as more things go wrong.
By contrast, we are not hearing about cost overruns on renewable energy contracts. Why is that?
I discovered the answer in reading through this excel file of all the renewable energy contracts signed with the big three California utilities.
I had separated out just the ones over 100 MW (there’s 110) and noticed that 18 have been canceled, and that of the 18 that were canceled, they first had delays. Some were having trouble getting transmission. And though some of those that got delayed have come online since, or have a delivery date that is pushed back a few months to a year, of all of the contracts that have been canceled, the projects were first delayed.
It almost appeared that if there is a delaying problem (delays usually raise costs) renewable projects simply get canceled.
Do California Power Purchase Contracts (PPAs) give the utilities an out if there are delays, and that is why these 18 delayed projects got canceled?
I asked PG&E communications guru, Lynsey Paulo, if this was the case.
“In general, yes,” said Paulo. ”Our Form PPA contains provisions that allow for PPA termination when the developer does not meet project milestones in a timely fashion. This would include, for example, failure to meet Guaranteed Construction Start Dates for certain reasons or failure to meet Guaranteed Commercial Operation Dates for certain reasons. ”
Of the two largest projects, one was canceled. Solar One’s 850 MW Stirling Engine was initially delayed and then canceled. It used an unusual technology; a rotating single axis tracker dish technology with a lot of moving parts, yet according to this file, still priced under MPR.
The MPR is the predicted annual average cost of production for a combined-cycle natural gas fired baseload proxy plant. That must have been difficult, coming up with a unique technology, yet selling the power cheaper than from a natural gas plant which can be mass-produced. It also had trouble getting transmission – as well as losing a court battle with an Indian group at the time that SCE canceled their contract.
But huge projects selling below MPR, and not having delays can be done. The 1,000 MW BrightSource project is listed as five 200 MW projects, that come on line one after the other, and these have not been delayed, despite their desert tortoise issues that the company has resolved. The first 200 MW is on track to be shipping to the California grid by mid 2014 at below average prices, with the last one to start shipping electricity by mid 2017.
All the BrightSource solar projects are selling their power to California utilities at below the MPR, or Market Price Referent.
Depending on how long the contract is for, and how valuable the power peak production is, and how soon it is signed, the MPR, or what a gas plant sells at, ranges from 7 cents to 12 cents a kilowatt-hour.
So, at below MPR, BrightSource solar thermal will cost Californians less than natural gas.
For the new renewables industry, dropping just 18 out of 110 very large utility-scale projects between 100 MW and 1,000 MW, in a recession, that is a pretty decent batting average. All of the wind projects, and some of the solar projects, selling in many cases for less than the power from an old established technology like natural gas power is a real achievement.
California’s renewable energy power contracts protect the consumer from cost over-runs.
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