NewEnergyNews More: November 2010

NewEnergyNews More

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Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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Your intrepid reporter

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  • Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    HYBRID NEW ENERGY (WIND & WATER)

    Integrating Wind and Water Power, an Increasingly Tough Balancing Act
    Peter Behr, November 30, 2010 (NY Times)

    "The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration, the largest of 16 U.S. Department of Energy pilot projects, is under way in five Northwest states. It seeks ways to balance the region's huge base of hydroelectric power with its fast-expanding collection of wind farms…With a budget of $178 million split evenly between an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant and local contributions by 11 utilities and other partners, the smart grid project covers a wide array of missions…A critical experiment centers on coping with wind power's starts and stops by paying consumers to let utilities store surplus wind energy in hot water heaters…

    "…Until now, hydro dams have primarily backed up wind, adding energy when wind speeds wane and backing off when wind picks up…Since 1998, wind developers have added 4,000 megawatts of wind power generation capacity, which is available about one-third of the time. The region has about 33,000 megawatts of hydropower and can call on about half of that on average, because of seasonal low water conditions…Half of the new wind energy is purchased by California utilities…Oregon, Washington and Montana also have state renewable portfolio standards, contributing to a demand that could possibly push wind generation capacity as high as 12,000 megawatts in 2016, three times the current amount…"


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    "But wind and water aren't turning out to be such good neighbors …When the river is high and the wind blows hard, the region can be confronted with too much power. Hydropower from the region's dams could provide a fast-acting backstop when wind power suddenly ramps up or down, but the Columbia's flow has many claimants…During the spring months, when melting snow fills the Columbia basis, dam operators are stretched to manage the river flow…Too much spillage over the dam can upset the river's oxygen-nitrogen balance, killing salmon…

    "Bonneville's customers are accustomed to bargain electricity rates thanks to hydropower. Retail power prices average about 9 cents per kilowatt-hour in Washington, half the rates in some East Coast states. The national average is 12 cents…With the region's hydro resources fully committed, the region faces higher future prices for power…Smart grid technologies that reduce demand, conserve power and help integrate wind energy systems may be key factors…"


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    "…[H]undreds of customers' electric water heaters will be equipped with controllers and two-way communication links to their utility, so that the heaters can be turned off in advance of a major wind front, then switched on to absorb the surplus electric power when the front arrives…[Utility operators] could allow the water in the tank to heat significantly higher than the customary 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The water heater would be equipped with a mixing valve and sensor to ensure safe water temperatures at the tap…The project's software will also factor in each customer's water usage patterns…The customers, all volunteers, can choose to override the heater controls…

    "…[Some] customers will get smart appliances, smart thermostats and home area networks…[Some] utilities in the smart grid project will receive an energy "signal"…meant to reflect generators' electricity costs and the value of conservation, demand restraint, renewable power, storage and other factors…[T]he signal will alert utilities to times when generation costs are high, creating an incentive for utilities to conserve power through energy storage…[T]he utility should earn a benefit that it would share with consumers who reduce their power usage…The project will test various compensation approaches…Later in the experiment, customers will get in-home electricity usage displays to track their power usage, and programmable thermostats…The results of these smart grid demonstrations can provide benchmarks for assessing clean energy strategies…"

    NEW LOWDOWN ON BIOCHAR

    Putting U.S. Biochar Policy on the Right Track
    November 2010 (Natural Resources Defense Council)

    "Biochar is a term for charcoal that is formed by heating biomass at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen and then added to soil to improve its health. Biochar has generated attention as a global warming mitigation tool because of its potential to sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide…But questions about the environmental impacts of biochar’s lifecycle must be answered…

    "Research should focus on biochar’s potential…In addition to sequestering carbon dioxide, biochar…protect[s] water quality through improved nutrient uptake…use[s] multiple biomass waste streams as feedstocks, and…yield[s] a variety of renewable energy resources…[These] make a more robust case for developing our understanding of biochar systems than a narrow focus on biochar’s potential to mitigate global warming…[D]evelopment of biochar systems has been hampered by the lack of market
    value for most of these…[though] research has shown that biochar can reduce soil emissions of nitrous oxide and methane, both potent global warming pollutants…"


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    "Understanding biochar’s potential starts with increased production. The performance of biochar systems depends on the feedstock…the conversion process…and the manner in which the biochar is handled, transported, and applied. Much of what is written about biochar is hypothetical or based on small-scale, laboratory demonstrations. A key barrier to understanding the performance of different biochars is the shortage of pilot and commercially operating biochar production systems…especially slow pyrolysis systems, the preferred technology…

    "…An aggressive research and demonstration strategy is needed to develop a classification scheme…to answer…Which feedstocks are most promising…Which conversion systems are best…[and] How can biochar be applied to maximize soil benefits…? …There are two sets of environmental concerns…[1] the sustainable supply of biomass feedstocks and the impacts of their production, harvest, transport, and transformation….The second set of concerns deals with…emissions from the operation of different biochar systems—especially small systems…"


    Schematic of slow pyrolysis (click to enlarge)

    "Assessment of the impacts of any biochar system must account for the energy required to produce, collect, transport and process the feedstock and the potential for soil carbon loss during the production, harvest and application of the biochar. More research, development, and demonstration efforts are needed…Certain feedstocks and production systems may be preferable…waste biomass…is likely preferable to growing primary biomass, as it does not incur the cost in energy inputs or…land-use change emissions…Animal manures, organic municipal solid waste, and urban wood residues are the most promising feedstocks because they are most concentrated…

    "Large production systems, uniform feedstocks, and tightly controlled application regimes will likely be more reliable…[S]maller systems will be much more difficult to characterize and monitor…Five to ten commercial-sized projects are needed to gather data…Demonstrations are needed on a range of technologies…slow pyrolysis is particularly important…Projects should…[access] a wide range of potential feedstocks…a representative spectrum of soil types and crop systems. Waste biomass feedstocks should be prioritized…The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) should conduct a five-year program…"

    SOME NUMBERS ON NUCLEAR

    Study Assesses Nuclear Power Assumptions
    November 30, 2010 (American Institute of Physics via PR Newswire)

    "A broad review of current research on nuclear power economics has been published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. The report concludes that nuclear power will continue to be a viable power source but that the current fuel cycle is not sustainable. Due to uncertainty about waste management, any projection of future costs must be built on basic assumptions that are not grounded in real data."

    [Sarah Widder, author, Benefits and Concerns of a Closed Nuclear Fuel Cycle:] "The goal of this study was to determine what assumptions are key to reaching conclusions about the relative costs of technologies…The increasing world demand for uranium and political considerations such as the fate of the Yucca mountain disposal site are two major elements that drive conclusions in one direction or another."

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    "Reprocessing and recycling of spent fuel is an alternative to the "once-through" policy mandated by the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act. While it would minimize high-level radioactive waste and recover additional value from the fuel, the option is controversial because of the risk of weapon proliferation and the significant cost of fuel recovery…

    "Analyses supporting the once-through option assume a continuation in current waste management policies, although they rely on disposal at Yucca Mountain, which has now been deemed unsuitable by the current administration. Analyses supporting a closed fuel cycle, in which unused fuel is recovered and recycled, assume progress in developing new recovery technologies and an increase in uranium costs due to international competition for resources…"

    ALL ABOUT DISTRIBUTED NEW ENERGY

    Renewable Distributed Energy Generation; Distributed Solar Photovoltaics and Small Wind Power: Demand Drivers and Barriers, Technology Issues, Competitive Landscape, and Global Market Forecasts
    Sonja Berdahl and Clint Wheelock, 4Q 2010 (Pike Research)

    "…Renewable distributed energy generation (RDEG) is actually a subset of the larger market for renewable energy generation and another market for distributed – or onsite –generation, which includes both conventional and renewable fuel sources. Since the first centralized power station came online in 1882 (Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street Station), centralized power plants have attracted capital and achieved efficiencies far greater than possible with small systems. Access to affordable electricity drove the economic engine of the industrial revolution. Distributed generation was reserved for regions that did not have a developed energy infrastructure…

    "Fast forward about 100 years…concerns are very different. A seemingly insatiable demand for electricity and a growing concern for the environment…[have created] a “new” market for cleaner, more secure energy…[T]he emergence of the renewable energy market – especially the RDEG market – [is] an energy evolution…but penetration levels for all renewable—especially distributed—are very low…[T]he RDEG market is dominated by residential and commercial grid-connected photovoltaics (PV) systems…[It] is concentrated in regions with favorable financial incentives, such as premium feed-in tariffs (FIT), for PV…FITs [may] include small wind systems…[but many] do not…"


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    "In 2010 and through the forecast period of this report (2010-2015), financial incentives are the key drivers for the RDEG market…The global electric power industry is evolving from a financial and engineering model that relies on large centralized power plants owned by the utilities to one that is more diverse – both in sources of generation and ownership of the generation assets…Overall, RDEG comprises a very small part of the current global electric power generation capacity – just 0.2% – but it has the potential to play a much larger role…Europe and the United States are the largest markets…China and India are huge potential markets…

    "The Three Primary Growth Drivers for RDEG…[are] Adequate sun and/or wind resources…Financial incentives – preferably a premium feed-in tariff…High electricity prices…Renewable portfolio standards and the accompanying financial incentives are the most import drivers in the development of the RDEG market…The locations of the most robust markets for RDEG are very similar to the locations of the global PV markets because PV is the dominant RDEG technology…Utilities and independent power producers (IPPs) are leasing commercial and industrial rooftops across urban areas to create “virtual” power plants…Renewable energy policies and the global economy will determine how fast the RDEG market will grow…"


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    "…In the U.S., California currently commands 60-70% of the market for PV…Some key markets in Europe – notably Greece, Spain, the Czech Republic and Italy…[are] struggling economies [and] present large uncertainty…The United States and the United Kingdom are the largest markets for distributed wind systems. Hybrid PV/wind systems are common in these markets for both grid-connected and off-grid applications. One off-grid application that has the potential to be a substantial market for RDEG is providing power to remote telecommunications base stations in developing regions of Africa, China, India and the Middle East. The majority of the telecommunications systems use some type of wind/PV/battery hybrid generation system…

    "…Emerging Trends in RDEG [are]…Growing awareness…Leasing programs…Utility ownership…Third-party ownership…Community ownership…[V]iewed as a vehicle for economic development…Solar PV module prices dropped by more than 50% in 2008/2009…[and] are expected to fall again…"

    IOWA’S WIND LIFELINE

    New Supply Chain Study Shows Wind Energy Produces More Jobs and Business Growth for Iowa
    November 30, 2010 (Environmental Law & Policy Center)

    "The Environmental Law and Policy Center has released a new study of Iowa’s wind energy supply chain. According to [The Wind Energy Supply Chain in Iowa], Iowa’s wind power supply chain comprises 80 Iowa companies with a total of over 2,300 employees in manufacturing alone. The state ranks second nationally in total wind energy generation. With local manufacturers building everything from huge turbine blades to small electrical components, and service firms providing maintenance, legal, marketing and other support to the industry, wind power means business for Iowa…

    "The report states that a commitment to business development combined with tax incentives, a skilled workforce and a central location have helped make Iowa a leader in the wind industry."


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    "The report highlights supply chain companies across the state, from locally owned small businesses to seven international manufacturing companies. In addition to the 80 existing supply chain companies, the study identified more than 30 additional Iowa companies that could supply the wind industry if demand increased.

    "The report notes that strong regulatory and tax policies are key to growing any industry, and the wind industry is no exception. The proposed strong federal renewable energy standard would help grow Iowa’s economy by increasing Iowa’s export opportunities for both wind power and manufactured wind turbine components and professional services."

    NRG + SUNPOWER = 250 MW PV PLANT

    NRG, SunPower Team for 250 Megawatts: More on the Way; Big projects are becoming the face of solar
    Michael Kanellos, November 30, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "…NRG Energy…solar subsidiary, NRG Solar, will become the owner of the California Valley Solar Ranch PV park being developed by SunPower. The 250-megawatt plant--the biggest one ever developed by SunPower--will begin construction in the second half of next year and start producing at least some power by the end of 2011. The bulk of the plant will come on line in 2012 and 2013.

    "Projects like this are expected to be one of the drivers for the U.S. and global solar industry. Right now, utility scale solar parks in the U.S. are capable of generating 250 megawatts…approximately the same amount of solar power installed in one of the slowest months ever (February 2010) for the German solar industry."


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    "But contracts have been signed to build nearly five gigawatts worth of utility scale PV parks between now and 2015 in the U.S. The declining price of solar modules is also making these large module parks more attractive than solar thermal parks. Even if only half of those projects ever see the light of day, it would represent a 10 fold increase in the amount of utility scale solar fields in the U.S. over a five year period…"

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    "Late last month, NRG announced it would invest $300 million into Brightsource Energy's Ivanpah power plant. Unlike Valley Solar Ranch (Dressing), Ivanpah is a solar thermal plant. Still, tax credits shine down on both projects. NRG also owns the 21 megawatt photovoltaic facility in Blythe, California, currently the state's largest.

    "SunPower, along with First Solar Sempra Generation and SunEdison, have been some of the leaders in the U.S. when it comes to large-scale PV projects…[U]tility deals are particularly important because they can be used to soak up production of solar modules…In September, Sharp purchased Recurrent Energy for $305 million. Iberdrola, juwi and several Chinese manufacturers also want to expand their presence in the U.S. utility market…[A]ll are scrambling to find development partners."

    GEOTHERMAL GOES TO COLLEGE

    Geothermal system cuts costs for SU
    November 29, 2010 (Delmarva Now!)

    "Salisbury University is using the Earth's natural thermal energy to heat and cool its residence halls. In the process, students are engaged in a true "living-learning" experience -- and the campus is saving money.

    "As part of a $6 million renovation for the 46-year-old Manokin Residence Hall, SU recently installed its first geothermal heating and cooling system. Among those who reside in the facility are first-year students in a Living-Learning Community dedicated to sustainability. Dubbed the "Green Floor," they also take classes there."


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    "Among the first campuses in the University System of Maryland to install geothermal, SU designed the system with Easton-based Gipe Associates. Project manager Adam Kegan recently taught students about the way it functions.

    "The process is relatively simple: 90 wells were drilled 300 feet below the surface of the Holloway Hall parking lot. They were connected by heat exchangers to a geothermal pump system inside Manokin. In the summer, heat is sent into the ground to cool the facility, and in the winter, it's drawn from the ground for warmth…"


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    "When SU's Pocomoke Hall was renovated last fall -- the first of the four traditional buildings to be updated -- planners kept its relatively new HVAC system. Since both facilities are mirror images at 21,735 square feet, that decision set up the perfect experiment…

    "In just the first month, SU saved $2,046.02, a 60 percent reduction in energy costs in Manokin, as compared to Pocomoke, due mainly to reduced electricity costs. The electricity is only used to collect and deliver heat, not to produce it. Also eliminated is the expense of natural gas to heat hot water…"

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    SUN AND GLOBAL TRADE

    Global PV Competition Creates Increased International Trade Disputes
    Bettina Weiss, November 2010 (SEMI PV Group/The Grid)

    "Critical to the healthy growth of the global solar PV market is a global trade system without restrictive barriers between countries…Any barrier that restricts the free trade of goods and services between countries raises overall costs…and decreases the amount fossil fuel displaced through solar…

    "…Governments regularly protect economic sectors from international competition and favor various exporting industries through a variety of tax incentives, grants, and other actions. Even under what would be called optimum situations, there are often a number of formal and informal, intentional and unintentional, restrictions…[but] progress to a more bountiful use of solar for all nations means lowering barriers…[Today,] increasing trade frictions are threatening the growth and prosperity of the global PV marketplace…"


    Anticipated supply (click to enlarge)

    "…China began blocking all shipments of rare earth minerals… Japan initiated a trade dispute with Canada over Ontario’s feed-in tariff…[The U.S. will] investigate China’s aid to its clean-energy producers…In India, under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)…goal for deploying 20GW of solar power by 2022…[mandated] modules [and cells] manufactured in India…

    "Further fueling global trade friction is a PV market overwhelmingly characterized by wide imbalances between supply and demand. With over 75% of the world’s demand for solar power, Europe contributes only 25-30% of the global supply…[P]olitical support for effective solar policy is threatened by the policy dialog influenced by these large imbalances of supply and demand…In the background…is the simmering controversy over currency policy. Some economists complain that China is manipulating its currency, keeping domestic demand low while reducing the price of its exports…[P]olitical forces are in motion in both the United States and Europe that may have uncertain and detrimental outcomes to PV suppliers…"


    Anticipated demand (click to enlarge)

    "…[O]pen and free trade is essential to the healthy development of the solar power industry and critical to the continued replacement of fossil fuels by clean, renewable energy…[T]he SEMI PV Group support of free and open trade can be characterized by the following principles…[1] the solar industry must reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels…[via] meaningful and effective public policies…[In Asia,] demand-side policies to encourage the development of local markets…[2] The key technical challenge to the solar economy of the future, therefore, is to reduce the costs associated with PV manufacturing and installation…Global industry standards that reduce costs and enable innovation are an essential component…A global set of environmental health and safety standards and Best Practices are also essential…

    "…[3] Policies should be clearly defined, simple to understand and focused on solar power adoption goals…[4] SEMI PV Group support[s] government policies that support manufacturing operations…[and] programs that seek [to] balance PV demand with PV supply…As the solar energy market continues to grow and develop, the SEMI PV Group will advocate policies that maintain free and open trade within the context of these principles…"

    BRAZIL’S WIND

    Will Brazil take the lead on wind energy in the Americas? Blessed with a strong, consistent wind resource that rivals the blustery coasts of Europe and the United States, Brazil is on track to increase its wind energy capacity fivefold by 2013, further establishing the ethanol and hydroelectric giant as Latin America's green energy leader.
    Bob Moser, 12 November 2010 (Wind Energy Update)

    "For multinational firms…significant questions remain over the country's ability to solve logistical transport issues, develop a regional supply chain and spur public policy that will unleash a steady stream of investment. But with an estimated 350 GW of onshore capacity alone, combined with large unpopulated land areas and a coastline of 9,650 km, Brazil’s wind energy market is difficult to ignore.

    "Northern Brazil is home to some of the most consistent easterly wind patterns in the world, which allow for the use of lighter turbines that cost less than those used in the US and Europe. Brazil's wind market nearly doubled its installed capacity between 2008 and 2009 by reaching 606 MW, and as of November this year, installed capacity has reached 864 MW, with another 250-260 MW under very accelerated construction."


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    "The country's first wind-only energy auction last December was considered a success, despite the average price of BRL148.3 (US$88.01) per megawatt-hour being lower than expected. This opened the door for multinationals like Vestas, GE, Suzlon and Alstom to announce their own domestic manufacturing within the next two years (Enercon and Impsa already produce turbines in Brazil)."

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    "A second energy auction in late August saw wind projects secure more contracts than Brazilian energy staples like small hydroelectric and biomass, though the average price of BRL134.2/MWh fell…Those auctions have placed 3.9 gigawatts of new wind capacity in the pipeline for 2012 and 2013…

    "Brazil's deficient transmission grid portends initially high costs for investors and consumers, while poor road infrastructure implies similarly high logistics costs [and there is not yet an adequately trained workforce]…While significant infrastructure hurdles exist, the state and private sector are meeting these challenges head on. As such, Brazil looks set to rival world wind energy markets in the not too distant future."

    WORLD’S BIGGEST NEW ENERGY LAB

    Climate change - Commission launches major investment programme for innovative low-carbon technologies; Financial support for at least eight projects involving carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
    November 19, 2010 (World of Renewables)

    "…[There has been the first call for proposals from] NER300, [the world’s largest programme of investment in low carbon and renewable energy demonstration projects from the European Commission]…The aim is to drive low carbon economic development in Europe, creating new 'green' jobs and contributing to the achievement of the EU's ambitious climate change goals. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is collaborating with the Commission in the implementation of the programme. Companies interested in making proposals have 3 months to submit bids...

    "…[The] first call for proposals signals the start of implementation of the NER300 initiative. The initiative is so named because it will be funded from the sale of 300 million emission allowances in the New Entrants Reserve (NER) of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). At current market prices for emission allowances, the initiative is worth around EUR 4.5 billion, making it the biggest such programme in the world."


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    "Funding is targeted to [at least 8] demonstration projects involving [carbon capture and storage (CCS)] and [at least 34] innovative renewable energy technologies. At least one project, and a maximum of three, will be funded per Member State…

    "The programme will leverage investments of more than EUR 9 billion as the NER300 initiative will fund up to 50% of the construction and operation costs of the CCS and renewables projects. Project sponsors and Member States will provide the rest of the funding. NER300 funding can be combined with financing from other EU instruments…"


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    "Under the NER300 decision (1), the EIB is responsible for selling the 300 million allowances and managing and disbursing the proceeds. While details, including the starting date of the sales, are not fixed yet, it is expected that all NER300 allowances will be sold before the start of the third trading period of the EU ETS in January 2013.

    "The EIB will also undertake detailed financial and technical due diligence of project proposals before making recommendations in the form of a ranking of project proposals to the Commission. The Commission will take the final decision on which projects to co-finance after consulting Member States."

    RISING TIDES

    Tapping into tides for electricity
    Bob Drogin, November 25, 2010 (LA Times via seattle Times)

    "…[T]he little gray barge strains against a raging morning tide…[that] will drain nearby rocky inlets and fishing harbors by 20 feet — as high as a two-story house — only to flood them again six hours later…[U]nder the stern, horizontal turbines spin in the swirling current. The huge mechanism…is America's most ambitious effort yet to produce electricity by harnessing the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on the sea…

    "…Ocean Renewable Power…aims to link a larger turbine system to eastern Maine's power grid next fall in the country's first small-scale commercial use of tidal energy…Tapping the tides is the latest niche in the search for affordable, renewable energy…Widespread use may be years off, but advocates say tides and other hydrokinetic systems, from ocean waves to free-flowing rivers, ultimately could meet up to 10 percent of America's electricity needs, more than hydropower dams now supply."


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    "Pilot projects or studies are under way in Washington's Puget Sound, in Alaska's Cook Inlet, off the coasts of Florida, California, Oregon and Hawaii, in New York's East River, along the Mississippi River and elsewhere…[T]he technology for marine and hydrokinetic power remains in its infancy, and costs are prohibitively high. Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, South Korea, China, Australia and other nations have been testing the waters for years. Commercial operations are rare…Canada may be closest…[It] is investing $75 million for three pilot projects in the upper Bay of Fundy, home to the world's highest tides. The first test turbine weighs 400 tons, has a peak capacity of one megawatt and looks like a sunken windmill…[They hope] to gather enough data by 2015 to determine whether tidal power is technically feasible, environmentally safe and economically viable.

    "In theory, the U.S. resource is immense. Waves and currents are relatively reliable in some areas, and tides ebb and flood twice a day like clockwork. As a result, they are more predictable resources than wind or solar power…[but] tides with sufficient range and velocity run only in the nation's northeastern and northwestern corners, mostly Maine and Washington, plus Alaska…Waves are consistently high only on the Pacific coast north of Point Conception, Calif., and in Hawaii."


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    "Several developments suggest a surge of U.S. interest…The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reported this month that it has issued 140 hydrokinetic preliminary permits for proposals to tap tides, waves or river currents, up from a handful a few years ago…Working with the Navy, for example, Ocean Power Technologies last month connected a small test buoy in the swells off Oahu to the power grid that serves the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, marking a first for a wave-energy device in U.S. waters…

    "Tides in Maine's rugged Cobscook Bay, at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, flow [fast]…Ocean Renewable Power, based in Portland, Maine, launched its first cross-flow turbine… in 2007…[I]t worked…The company built a bigger unit…for $2.5 million…Testing resumed Oct. 1 in a fast-flowing channel flanked by wooded hills and rocky cliffs…The environmental impact still isn't clear. University of Maine researchers are trying to assess risks to fish, diving seabirds, seals and other creatures in a pristine ecosystem…[T]he Snohomish County [Washington] Public Utility District…[has] plans to install two large turbines to gather tidal data one-half mile offshore and 200 feet deep…"

    SPAIN LEADS BUILD OF MONSTER 15 MW TURBINE

    Gamesa Leads 11-Company Group Developing World's Largest Wind Turbine
    Sally Bakewell, November 23, 2010 (Bloomberg News)

    "Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA is leading a project with 10 more companies including Alstom SA, Acciona SA and Iberdrola Renovables SA to build a 15-megawatt turbine in a bid to drive down costs of offshore wind power.

    "Gamesa is coordinating
    Azimut: Offshore Wind Energy 2020, an initiative that requires a 25 million-euro ($33.8 million) investment by the companies during the next four years. The program will establish technology by 2013 to develop the turbine from 2020…"

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    "By building turbines more than twice as powerful as current models sold, the promoters are betting they can overcome hurdles to offshore wind power including the higher investment requirements compared with land-based wind power and the challenges in delivering energy to shore."

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    "German turbine makers Enercon GmbH and REpower Systems AG have developed 6-megawatt offshore wind machines. REpower’s model, with a capacity of 6.15 megawatts, has a rotor diameter of 126 meters (413 feet). Clipper Windpower Plc is developing a 10-megawatt machine and Norwegian renewable energy company Sway AS is working on a floating version.

    "Under the Azimut program, Gamesa will oversee the turbines, while Acciona Windpower will undertake the technology required to convert wind energy to electricity. Acciona Energia will carry out construction, operation and maintenance of the offshore sites and Alstom will be responsible for the sea-based substructures. Iberdrola Renovables will manage integration of offshore wind energy into the electricity grid…22 research centers specializing in offshore wind technology joined the project, which won approval from Spain’s Center for the Development of Industrial Technology…"

    A WHOLE NEW APPROACH TO SUN

    Solar updraft tower technology: Not all hot air; Could 2011 be the year that solar updraft towers finally make their debut on the commercial renewable energy landscape?
    Rikki Stancich, 15 November 2010 (CSP Today)

    "Like many other solar technologies, the concept behind solar updraft towers, or solar chimneys, has been around for more than one hundred years. Based on the principle that heat rises, the idea is that heat, captured in an enormous greenhouse, funnels upward into a tall, hollow tower. As the hot air moves through the greenhouse and upward into the tower, it propels a series of turbines (similar to Kaplan hydro turbines) positioned around the base of the tower.

    "…[T]he height of the tower creates the temperature differentiation to create the airflow that drives the turbines…The technology relies on radiant heat, rather than direct sunshine, to heat the air inside the greenhouse. This means that, unlike concentrating solar power (CSP) and photovoltaics (PV), the technology can operate in diffused sunlight – including cloudy or wet weather. In good weather, the plant should operate at a capacity factor of 50% plus, according to Australian solar updraft tower technology developer, EnviroMission."


    The concept (click to enlarge)

    "Despite the first prototype, (built in 1982 by Schlaich Bergermann in Manzanares, Spain), having been hailed a success, the technology has yet to be commercially developed. But 2011 may well be the year that the technology proves it weight in gold.

    "EnviroMission, listed on the Australian securities exchange in 2001, has since been dedicated to refining the technology…[but] has struggled to get [a] project off the ground in the absence of adequate policy support frameworks and incentives…In [2009] the company set up its US headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona…[and its] solar updraft tower project was selected out of hundreds of others from the Southern Californian Public Power Authority’s RFP response for renewable energy projects."


    The prototype at Manzanares (click to enlarge)

    "EnviroMission has since filed land applications in Arizona for two 5,500 acre (2225.85 hectare) sites, suitable in size for development of two 200MW Solar Tower power stations, has negotiated an SCPPA approved PPA for the off-take of energy generated by the first of two planned solar updraft towers, and has appointed international engineering, design and consulting firm, ARUP, as its design engineer…"

    [Roger Davey, CEO, solar updraft tower technology developer EnviroMission:] "The major [advantages are] that…solar updraft towers can produce more power per megawatt installed…it does not use any water in the generation cycle…[and] we can guarantee the output, unlike PV and wind…Nuclear is probably more expensive…While coal has a capacity factor in the 80% region, when you start costing in water, [solar updraft technology] is competitive…But all new technology needs incentives…The first solar updraft tower will be roughly 750 metres tall and 130 metres in diameter. Its visibility is unlikely to cause concern …The towers have a lifespan of around 80 years…"

    WIRELESS CHARGING

    Wireless Power; Wireless Charging and Transmission for Mobile Devices, Consumer Electronics, Electric Vehicles, Industrial Markets, and Military Applications
    Richard Martin and Clint Wheelock, 4Q 2010 (Pike Research)

    "…Technological advances in wireless power charging and transmission have shown great promise for enabling plug-free and, in many cases, contactless charging for a wide range of devices and machinery – from mobile phones to electric vehicles to unmanned aircraft.

    "…[S]ystems have evolved to the point of promising the ability to transmit dozens of watts over dozens of kilometers…[A]n active and emerging industry has begun to take shape around wireless power…[that] includes such major manufacturers as General Motors and General Electric, as well as start-ups such as WiTricity, Powercast, PureEnergy Solutions, and Powermat…[but it] remains diffuse…[T]here are a wide range of potential applications…no clear leaders…no industry wide specifications or standards…little agreement regarding the size of the market opportunity and the most promising areas for investment…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[O]ne of the primary drivers of WP will be convenience…[It] offers a range of simple and convenient charging modalities, from a mat that will charge several devices at once to a room-based system that will wirelessly charge all devices in a given range or volume…The second driver is cost…[T]he overall cost per watt (or kilowatt) for charging systems will inevitably go down as physical chargers and adapters are removed from the equation…[T]he opportunities posed by advances in wireless power for both cost savings and higher consumer satisfaction are extremely promising…[in] the electric vehicle market… [some] industrial applications…[and] military applications…

    "…[T]here is nothing inherently green about wireless power charging and transmission…However, wireless power has a number of secondary effects with potentially important and far-reaching benefits for clean energy and carbon emissions reductions…[such as the] reduction in the number of cords, adapters, and wall outlets…Moreover, wireless charging is seen as a significant enabler for the adoption of electric vehicles. Many believe that plug-in systems present a large market hurdle for consumer adoption of EVs; the expectation is that in-garage, wireless power stations will dramatically accelerate the EV market when they become available over the next few years…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[W]ireless power transmission…could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in [five] different ways…[1] Eliminating the need for copper-wire transmission grids…[2] Transporting power from remote generation sources, such as wind farms and solar arrays…[3] Collecting and utilizing micro-power from ambient sources, such as cellular networks, that otherwise dissipates…[ 4] Replacing costly and carbon-intensive electricity sources, such as diesel generators, in temporary applications and locales…[and, 5, facilitating the launch of] massive solar arrays into geosynchronous orbit, and beaming power back to Earth in the form of microwaves…

    "Pike Research believes the adoption of wireless power charging and transmission devices, particularly for mobile devices, consumer electronics, and electric vehicles, will climb steadily over the next five years and then accelerate rapidly as prices fall and WP systems are integrated into many everyday products…Pike Research believes that worldwide revenues from wireless power transmission and charging systems will reach $11.8 billion by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36%."

    SUN STORED IN LIQUID

    Liquid battery could harness, store solar energy; Researchers say sun-absorbing molecule could be used to help heat homes
    David Teeghman, November 22, 2010 (MSNBC)

    "…[T]echnologies designed to harness solar energy — for example, photovoltaics that capture photons or solar-thermal collectors that harvest heat — are not designed to store it. The sun comes out and the electricity is generated on the spot. Any extra sunlight (and there's a lot of it)…[is] forever wasted.

    "…MIT's Jeffrey Grossman and his colleagues have done some initial research that could lead to an entirely new method for capturing and storing sunlight, and it has the potential to make this renewable energy indefinitely storable and transportable."


    click thru for an explanatory video

    "The research is based on the molecule fulvalene diruthenium, which is derived from the rare, expensive and platinum-like element, ruthenium…Grossman and his team found that when a fulvalene diruthenium molecule absorbs sun, it changes shape into a semi-stable formation. Adding a catalyst to the mixture, snaps the molecule back into it original form.

    "This is very interesting from a solar energy perspective because the molecule can absorb sun and remain in the semi-stable state indefinitely until a catalyst snaps it back into its original form. When that last change occurs, energy is released that can be used to heat a home or power appliances."


    click thru for an explanatory video

    "Grossman thinks such a molecule could work in liquid form to convert and store solar power…

    "The only problem, and it's a big one, is that the diruthenium molecule is expensive and so using it as a rechargeable liquid battery is not practical. But now that Grossman and his team understand the fundamental mechanism, they think they can find other, cheaper molecules that exhibit the same characteristics."

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    FERC FOUL-UP OR FOUL PLAY?

    Wind industry fears FERC slip-up on proposed grid rules
    James Cartledge, November 22, 2010 (Brighter Energy)

    "The American Wind Energy Association said… there could be a “mistake” in proposed new grid connection rules from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

    "…FERC said…[reforms] would make it easier for renewable energy projects to connect to America’s electricity transmission networks…But the wind industry trade association said it believed the proposed rule allows conventional power generators to remain ‘largely exempt’ from integration costs they impose on the system from any unexpected or emergency shutdowns, while renewable energy generators would have to pay ‘more than their share’…"


    New Energy needs FERC to connect it to its customers. (click to enlarge)

    [AWEA:] “We hope this was a mistake. Mistakes like this can be fixed before proposed rules turn into final rules. AWEA will provide FERC an alternative method that treats all generators fairly which we hope will be included in any final rule.”

    "Under the proposed rules…conventional power generators do not have to pay for the back-up resources that grid operators require when conventional power plants shut down unexpectedly. These costs add up to billions each year… However, variable energy producers like wind farms and solar power plants would have to pay for these back-up electricity supplies, even when outages are caused by large fossil fuel plants or nuclear generators, the wind industry fears."

    FERC needs to get busy getting wires built. (click to enlarge)

    "AWEA also accused FERC of overstating costs of connecting up and managing renewable energy supplies on the grid in its proposals, calculating the variability of clean energy projects in isolation of other energy sources transmitting power through the grid…

    "Noting the FERC’s intention to help reduce the discrimination faced by new renewable energy generators on the grid, the AWEA said it was ‘gravely concerned’ that the proposals as currently drafter would ‘exacerbate’ the discrimination…FERC’s proposals are currently open for public comment for a two-month period."

    BAHRAIN BUILDING NEW ENERGY

    Bahrain plans to set up wind energy plant
    November 22, 2010 (Trade Arabia)

    "Bahrain is to set up a wind energy plant to produce electricity soon, said the Oil and Gas Affairs Minister and National Oil and Gas Authority chairman Dr Abdulhussein Mirza.

    "Dr Mirza said a Japanese company had just concluded tests on wind velocity in Bahrain and would submit the evaluation results soon…"


    Bahrain and the other Middle East-North Africa (MENA) nations are missing the opportunity. (click to enlarge)

    [Dr. Mirza:] 'American company Petrosolar has also been engaged to explore the solar energy available in Bahrain…'

    Bahrain is among the MENA nations with bad air. (click to enlarge)

    "The minister had earlier said Bahrain was set to build two new 'hybrid' power plants for solar and wind energy at a cost of around $8 million.

    "He said the two plants, to be initially set up on an experimental basis, would each produce five megawatts of energy…"

    BEST STATES FOR SUN

    Who would benefit most from solar energy? Study ranks states
    November 22, 2010 (Arizona State University)

    "Americans have become more and more concerned with the idea of using cleaner energy sources and creating new jobs through the use of solar energy. [Optimal Deployment of Solar Index] from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University takes a closer look at which states might benefit the most both from generating solar energy and from consuming that energy. These are believed to be the first state rankings of their kind…

    "The study…ranks states based on several criteria. To find out where we should ideally create solar energy for the country, Croucher looked specifically at solar insolation, whether a considerable amount of energy can be generated in each state, as well as the cost of doing so there…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[T]he top states for solar energy consumption are Hawaii, Delaware, Alaska, Wisconsin, Maryland and Ohio. This list takes into account the current carbon emissions from electricity in each state and whether electricity prices are high there."

    click to enlarge

    "However, it doesn’t make much sense for states like Delaware and Wisconsin to try to generate their own solar energy. Croucher says that’s why it’s so important to consider both the generation and consumption lists together…

    "Traditionally, most states have simply looked at using solar energy for their own benefit. Croucher also considered this using five criteria: solar insolation, how many jobs would be created, the cost to deploy, the carbon emissions from electricity in the state now, and whether electricity prices are currently high in the area…"

    TAKING AN EV HOME

    How to prep your house for an electric car?
    November 22, 2010 (USA Today)

    "…How you prep your house for [an EV] varies widely, depending on the model, your home's wiring and how quickly you want to charge it.

    "The batteries that power electric cars can be charged by plugging them into a standard wall socket or nearly twice as fast with a charging station. Yet a station could cost at least $2,000, including installation, and possibly $4,000 higher if you need a new electrical panel…"


    From Charge Net (click to enlarge)

    [AP:] "The main thing to consider is…If your commute is short, or there's a charging station near your office, you might not need much of a charge at home. You can get away with topping off your battery overnight."

    From Aerovironment (click to enlarge)

    "…The $41,000 Chevrolet Volt and the $33,000 Nissan Leaf, both of which are slated to go on sale next month, have different batteries and charging requirements…
    …The Volt has a relatively small battery because it also has a gasoline-powered generator that powers the car when the battery runs out. Chevy expects the car to be able to go 25 to 50 miles on electricity and then an extra 300 miles or so with the help of the gas motor. A standard socket will fully charge the Volt in about eight hours. A charger will do it in four. [Chevrolet says a charger is optional]…

    "…The Leaf is powered entirely by electricity, and therefore has a much bigger battery. Nissan says the Leaf can go about 100 miles on a full charge. It will take 20 hours to do this with a standard outlet, and eight hours with a charger. Nissan strongly recommends a charger…"

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    CAPE WIND POWER PRICE APPROVED

    Massachusetts Approves Cape Wind/National Grid Power Purchase Agreement
    November 22, 2010 (Business Wire via Market Watch)

    "Cape Wind passed another major milestone today with the approval by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) of the 15-year Power Purchase Agreement with National Grid to buy Cape Wind's energy, capacity and renewable energy credits…

    "The DPU decision culminates a comprehensive six-month review of unprecedented scope, including 13 days of evidentiary hearings with testimony from 15 witnesses, 1,362 exhibits and nearly 3,000 transcript pages. Participation in the case was wide-ranging and extensive, with 14 different active parties."


    click to enlarge

    "This DPU approval comes on the heels of significant Cape Wind project announcements that locate the creation of over 1,000 new manufacturing, staging, assembly, construction, and operations jobs in Massachusetts. In addition, Siemens has opened their North American Offshore Wind office in Boston because of Cape Wind…"

    click to enlarge

    [From the DPU Approval:] "[I]t is abundantly clear that the Cape Wind facility offers significant benefits that are not currently available from any other renewable resources. We find that these benefits outweigh the costs of the project… "

    "Cape Wind…[would be] America's first offshore wind farm…[and] would provide most of the electricity used on Cape Cod and the Islands…[It would reduce the] region's need to import oil, coal and gas…create new jobs, help stabilize electric costs, contribute to a healthier environment, increase energy independence and establish Massachusetts as a leader in offshore wind power…"

    MORE CHINA SOLAR GROWTH

    China Tightens Its Grip on Solar
    Travis Holum, November 22, 2010 (The Motley Fool)

    "Chinese solar manufacturers can't seem to help expanding capacity faster than anyone expects. Maybe it's the cheap money available to Chinese companies, growing demand around the world, or improving margins…China rules our solar universe right now.

    "Solar leader Yingli Green Energy continued a strong earnings season for solar…The company keeps pushing more and more panels out, increasing module output 25.2% since the second quarter and planning for 1.7 gigawatts of capacity by the end of next year."




    "The headline numbers jump out…Revenue was up 50% to $490.9 million and earnings per share jumped to $0.44 from $0.12 last year. But with solar, the devil is in the details.

    "Yingli Green Energy's gross margin was 33.3%, approaching First Solar's sector- leading 40.3%. The company is still having trouble cutting costs, as non-silicon manufacturing costs were flat from the second quarter at $0.74 per watt…[W]hen Solarfun (Nasdaq: SOLF) reported that the cost per watt actually rose in the third quarter, [it signaled] an end to solar's steep price drop."




    "…[Like] bullish sentiments from the rest of the sector for 2011…Yingli Green Energy has 721 megawatts of modules under contract for 2011, with prepayments required from most customers; it expects to have one gigawatt under contract by the end of the year.

    "Yingli Green Energy stands above some of its competitors because it owns the entire module supply chain, reducing risk and increasing margins. Investors are starting to get worried about 2011…[but] if 2011 is as tough as some suspect, Yingli Green Energy should be able to weather it better than most competitors. No matter what 2011 brings…China has become the epicenter of the solar industry."

    99 MILES PER GALLON (& NO SPEW)

    Nissan Leaf: 99 miles per gallon
    Peter Valdes-Dapena, November 22, 2010 (CNN Money)

    "The Nissan Leaf electric car will get the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon according to its official EPA fuel economy label rating…Since the Leaf uses electricity and not gasoline for fuel, the EPA had to create an "mpg-equivalent" rating.

    "Ninety-nine miles a gallon would make the Leaf the most efficient mid-sized car on the market…[It] is expected to get 106 mpg-e in city driving and 92 on the highway. Electric cars commonly get better mileage in city driving where the brakes, which help recharge the battery, are used regularly."


    click to enlarge

    "The EPA estimates the Leaf's driving range on a full charge to be about 73 miles, according to the label provided by Nissan, a figure that is considerably lower than the 100 miles Nissan has regularly touted for the car…The annual electricity cost for the Leaf is estimated to be $561. By comparison, the annual fuel cost of a Toyota Prius, which the EPA estimates gets 50 miles a gallon, is $867.

    "The Leaf is also officially rated as producing no greenhouse gases and has the best possible ratings for other pollutants. EPA ratings measure only pollutants produced by the car itself, not those produced outside the car by power plants, gasoline refineries or other sources…A spokeswoman for the EPA confirmed the accuracy of the figures on the label provided by Nissan."


    click to enlarge

    "Nissan will begin selling the Leaf in a limited number of U.S. markets in December. Cars cannot be sold in the U.S. without an EPA fuel economy label.

    "General Motors is awaiting a decision by the EPA on how it will rate the fuel economy of the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt's fuel economy is a more complex issue since that car runs on battery-stored electricity for about 40 miles before using power from a gasoline engine…[so] the car's actual fuel economy will vary greatly depending on how far it is driven before its batteries are recharged."

    SEE SMART GRID GROW

    Smart Grid Deployment Tracker 3Q10; New Market Activity and Market Share Analysis for Smart Meters, AMI Communications Modules, and Smart Grid Systems Integrators
    Jevan Fox and Clint Wheelock, November 2010 (Pike Research)

    "…The second and third quarters of 2010 (2Q10 and 3Q10) included advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) smart meter deployment announcements covering 910,500 customers from five different utilities, an increase from 146,000 new endpoints announced in 1Q10.

    "The largest project announced during this period was the Salt River Project AMI expansion announcement on May 18, 2010. The Arizona utility – the third largest public power utility in the United States – increased their deployment of Elster’s EnergyAxis by 500,000 meters…[T]he major announcement of 3Q10 was Florida-based Lakeland Electric’s selection of Sensus meters and the FlexNet RF communications system…Florida’s third largest public utility will begin rolling out 120,000 endpoints – of which 10,000 will have remote connect and disconnect capabilities – in 1Q11."


    click to enlarge

    "The announcements of smart grid and AMI smart meter deployments have slowed since the second half of 2009 (2H09), with no larger smart grid deployment announcements in 2Q10 or 3Q10 – only AMI smart meter deployments. A majority of the 7.1 million endpoints announced in 2H09 were directly related to the stimulus grants awarded in October 2009, though smart grid and AMI deployment announcements…[trickled out in] 2Q10 and 3Q10, as several utilities are revealing vendor selections and moving forward with AMI projects.

    "…As pilot programs come to the end of their terms, more utilities will be selecting meter and communication vendors…Pike Research analysis shows that smart grid deployment and AMI smart meter deployment announcements will increase drastically throughout the [2H2010]…"


    click to enlarge

    "…In the AMI sector, Landis+Gyr continued to lead in market share…having surpassed Itron in 4Q09. Itron remains the #2 market share player, but has been losing market share every quarter for the past year. Also significant was Elster’s push to gain market share with EnergyAxis, collecting several smaller but notable utility wins…In communications modules, Silver Springs Networks (SSN) claimed the largest market share, beating out Itron, Sensus, and L+G by margins of 7%, 12%, and 13% respectively.

    "With major announcements still to come regarding vendor selection, technology reliability, and communication standards presently being worked on, the communications module market is poised for an expanded period of activity. Of note in the second quarter was Texas-New Mexico Power’s (TNMP) selection of SmartSynch, resulting in the largest residential AMI deployment using a public wireless network in the United States."

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    DESIGNING BETTER WIND

    Enhancing the Efficiency of Wind Turbines
    November 17, 2010 (American Institute of Physics via Newswise)

    "A milestone in the history of renewable energy occurred in the year 2008 when more new wind-turbine power generation capacity was added in the U.S. than new coal-fired power generation. The costs of producing power with wind turbines continues to drop, but many engineers feel that the overall design of turbines is still far from optimal.

    "…One issue confronting the efficiency of wind energy is…[wind’s] changeability. The aerodynamic performance of a wind turbine is best under steady wind flow, and the efficiency of the blades degrades when exposed to conditions such as wind gusts, turbulent flow, upstream turbine wakes, and wind shear…[A] new type of air-flow technology may soon increase the efficiency of large wind turbines under many different wind conditions."


    click to enlarge

    "Syracuse University researchers…are testing new intelligent-systems-based active flow control methods with support from the U.S. Department of Energy through the University of Minnesota Wind Energy Consortium. The approach estimates the flow conditions over the blade surfaces from surface measurements and then feeds this information to an intelligent controller to implement real-time actuation on the blades to control the airflow and increase the overall efficiency…[It] may also reduce excessive noise and vibration due to flow separation.

    "Initial simulation results suggest that flow control applied on the outboard side of the blade beyond the half radius could significantly enlarge the overall operational range of the wind turbine with the same rated power output or considerably increase the rated output power for the same level of operational range. The team is also investigating a characteristic airfoil in a new anechoic wind tunnel facility at Syracuse University to determine the airfoil lift and drag characteristics with appropriate flow control while exposed to large-scale flow unsteadiness. In addition, the effects of flow control on the noise spectrum of the wind turbine will be also assessed and measured in the anechoic chamber."


    click to enlarge

    "Another problem with wind energy is drag, the resistance felt by the turbine blades as they beat the air. Scientists at the University of Minnesota have been looking at the drag-reduction effect of placing tiny grooves on turbine blades…[T]riangular riblets scored into a coating on the blade surface… are so shallow (between 40 and 225 microns) that they can’t be seen by the human eye -- leaving the blades looking perfectly smooth.

    "Using wind-tunnel tests of 2.5 megawatt turbine airfoil surfaces (becoming one of the popular industry standards) and computer simulations, they are looking at the efficacies of various groove geometries and angles of attack (how the blades are positioned relative to the air stream)…[Riblets] have been used…in the sails on sailboats taking part in the last America’s Cup regatta and on the Airbus airliner, where they produced a drag reduction of about 6 percent. The design of wind turbine blades was, at first, closely analogous to that of airplane wings. But owing to different engineering concerns…drag reduction won’t be quite the same for wind turbines…"

    TEXANS SQUANDERING SUN

    Texas languishes in shade on solar power development
    Elizabeth Souder, November 21, 2010 (Dallas Morning News)

    "Dallas renewable energy investor Panda Power Funds is developing one of the country's largest solar power plants in sunny New Jersey…Texas' second-largest power generator, NRG Energy, is investing in the world's largest solar thermal power plant in California…

    "Texas is No. 9 among states when it comes to the amount of sunlight that could be used to make electricity. But the state ranks 16th in the amount of solar electric generating capacity actually installed. New Jersey is No. 2; California is No. 1…"


    Texas has sun aplenty. (click to enlarge)

    "Solar producers say Texas will fall behind economically without an aggressive push into solar energy. They blame state leaders for not providing the financial backing to attract the industry to Texas. And they hope a new legislative session beginning in January will create those incentives…Critics say incentives are unnecessary and wasteful. They say Texans benefit from lower prices for electricity generated with other fuels.

    "During the last session of the Legislature in 2009, a solar incentive bill wound its way through committees and debates until it lacked only House approval. The bill, which called for charging electricity customers fees to pay for rebates to solar generators, represented a rare consensus among environmentalists and business leaders…[It was] killed…[by] parliamentary questions that stopped the legislation…"


    Texas could get more than a third of its electricity from rooftop solar PV. (click to enlarge)

    "Texas offers some incentives for small solar power installations. Oncor, the electricity delivery company for North Texas, offers rebates. And some municipal electric companies, such as Austin Energy and CPS Energy, are investing in solar power.

    "Solar advocates acknowledge the technology is more costly than other types of power generation. But they see the extra cost as an investment in attracting the fledgling industry to Texas…[and say] the cost of solar power generators will drop to the level of other technology in a few years, and won't need government incentives…"

    WAVES OF OCEAN ENERGY

    Ocean Energy Concepts Proliferate
    Tom Banse, November 17, 2010 (KUOW-NPR Oregon)

    "…[M]arine energy developers love [the Oregon Pacific Coast but the]…alternative energy sector has been slow to coalesce around one technology…Unconventional ideas are…[proliferating]…

    "…Huge waves crash against the jetties at the mouth of Tillamook Bay…One company is thinking about redesigning these jetties with electricity generators built inside…[so that when] waves crash or hit against this device, water…runs into the back where the turbine is…[I]t’s very similar to a hydroelectric dam…[Water] flows through and drives a turbine…"


    click to enlarge

    "Stephanie Thornton is the American program director for the aptly named Norwegian company Wave Energy AS. Thornton describes her industry as in its infancy. It’s a period of great experimentation with a panoply of creative technologies…[E]conomics may be the key issue…

    "…[For] every failed pioneer company about two new startups show up on [the Oregon] coast…[Scottish firm] Aquamarine Power is one of several new foreign companies scouting…Aquamarine rep Theresa Wisner recently described her firm’s near shore device… the Oyster…[as] a very large mechanical flap resting on the sea bottom…[An ocean wave] forces the top of the Oyster down onto some pistons…[that force] water into a high pressure water line that goes ashore to a Pelton wheel…generating electricity…"


    The Principle Power floating turbine (click to enlarge)

    "…Seattle-based Principle Power…[has] plans for a floating wind farm offshore…Salem-based startup, M3 Wave Energy Systems…relies on wave pressure passing over air-filled pillows on the sea floor. The pulses compress air, which can then be used to spin an electric turbine…First to connect to the grid will likely be a bobbing buoy generator next year…[T]he floating wind farm also seems plausible near term because wind power is [a mature technology]…

    "…[M]any fishermen and crabbers…remain skeptical of ocean energy…[who fear having] fishing ground taken…Electric generation attached to a jetty is the only idea that wins [their] favor…"