Saturday, December 31, 2005

Top Ten UK Alternative Energy Projects

Solar Powered CIS Tower in Manchester

The UK’s top ten alternative energy projects have been named by the UK government’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). They include offshore turbines in Kent, the solar-powered CIS tower in Manchester and a wave buoy in Cornwall.

A target of supplying 10% of the UK's electricity from renewable energy by 2010 has been set by the British government.

The list includes three wind farms, three solar-power projects, and two examples of microgeneration, or projects with lower outputs.

According to the government, the 30-turbine Kentish Flats wind farm has been described as "the Ferrari of the turbine world".

Black Law A in South Lanarkshire was one of the largest wind farms approved in the UK, and the Cefn Croes project near Aberystwyth the most powerful when it opened in June.

The CIS tower in Manchester - the city's tallest building - was on course to be the biggest user of solar panels in the UK.

The biomass plant in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, was singled out for producing a "revolutionary new wood pellet bio fuel", created by burning sawdust and woodchips.

The wave buoy project off the north Cornwall coast was highlighted as a project that would "speed up the installation of one of the world's first wave farms". The site is being investigated as a possible wave hub location - an offshore electrical socket that would be connected to the national grid.

Cornwall Wave Buoy

“Revolutionary” Northern Ireland Biomass Plant

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Australia: Alternative Energy Grants

Geothermal Plant

From geothermal power to better batteries, millions have been spent on alternative energy research grants in Australia, according to Rod Myer writing for The Age of Australia.

The AUD $23 million (approximately $17 million) spent by the Australian Federal Government under the first tranche of its $100 million (US $73m) pledge to aid the alternative energy sector has highlighted innovations by local companies to cure Australia's fossil fuel addiction.

Two companies awarded grants under the Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI) have developed a no-emissions alternative for base-load generation. Geodynamics received $5 million grant to help develop its geothermal electricity plant near Innamincka in the north of South Australia. Scope Energy, another betting its future on geothermal energy, received $3.9 million grant to aid development. Its principal, Roger Massey-Greene, says the grant will help finance a drilling program of 500-metre deep holes to prove up its resource. Scope plans to open a 50-megawatt plant, but Mr Massey-Greene says he hopes to see this expand to 1000 MW in the longer term.

Scope has a geographic advantage, he believes. Its site is near Millicent, in the south-east of South Australia, meaning it is close to transmission lines and the population centres of Melbourne and Adelaide. "We expect the cost to be very competitive with combined-cycle gas power plants," Mr Massey-Greene said.

Scope's geothermal technology will tap hot water heated deep in the earth and run it through a heat exchanger to generate electricity. Mr Massey-Greene likens this process to a "fridge operating in reverse".

Geodynamics' system will pump water through hot rocks and use the resulting steam to generate power. Scope's wells will be as deep as 4.5 kilometres. The technology that Scope is planning has been in use at a plant in Italy that has operated for 101 years, Mr Massey-Greene said.

Stage one of the plant is expected to cost $4 million per megawatt to construct, compared with about $750,000 for a combined-cycle gas plant. "But we have no fuel costs," Mr Massey-Greene said. Geothermal plants run at an output of about 98 per cent of rated capacity. Mr Massey-Green believes geothermal power has a great future. In New Zealand it provides 7 per cent of power needs and this could rise to as much as 15 per cent. Some in the market believe that Scope will float in the first half of 2006.

Melbourne-based Katrix will use its $811,000 Renewable Energy Development Initiative grant to further develop its new fluid expander that may enable solar energy to be harnessed for electricity. Founder Attilio Demichelli says the expander, which does the job of a turbine, will allow solar thermal energy to be adapted for small-scale use far more cheaply than photovoltaic systems.

Katrix is developing units in which solar energy will heat refrigeration fluid that will run through an expander linked to a generator to produce power. The expander is cheaper than a miniature turbine to build and has a number of advantages, including its ability to take gas or steam at 22 atmospheres (twenty two times atmospheric pressure) back to one atmosphere in one step.

Katrix projects that in the Californian market — once government solar energy grants are factored in — its system will return its cost to consumers in two to three years, compared with 15 years for photovoltaic systems. Mr Demichelli, a private investor, and inventor Yannis Tropalis have invested over $3 million in the technology in three years.

Another REDI grant, of $290,000, has gone to V-Fuel, which is developing a vanadium bromide redox battery. The funding will help develop a prototype of a battery that its promoters hope will be efficient enough to use to store power from renewable energy plants. Efficient storage would enable technologies such as wind power and solar energy to get over a bugbear — unpredictability, because no one knows when the sun will shine or the wind will blow.

V-Fuel principal Michael Kazacos says the grant is crucial to the company, which has raised only $400,000 up to now. V-Fuel has developed a five-kilowatt battery but is aiming to produce a 50-kilowatt prototype. That, he says, will cost $1 million, and further funding is being sought from another federal grant scheme.

"There is a lot of interest in Europe," Mr Kazacos said. "We have had offers of collaboration from there." The battery was 85 per cent efficient, he said, and "we are aiming at having a $200-per-kilowatt production cost". The vanadium bromide process was developed at the University of NSW by Professor Maria Skyllas-Kazacos, who is a principal of V-Fuel.

according to Origin - Sliver Cells are "long, ultra thin, quite flexible & perfectly bifacial"

Origin Energy received a $5 million grant to aid development of its facilities for manufacturing solar energy cells using photovoltaic sliver technology. The technology aims to cut the cost of solar energy cells by reducing silicon usage by up to 90 per cent. Sliver cells are micromachined to less than 70 microns thick with solar cell efficiency running at over 19%. Silicon is the most expensive part of a solar energy cell. Origin Energy says it costs $11,000 to fit a house with a one-kilowatt unit. This would take 20 years or more to pay itself off. However, as energy prices rise and production costs fall, this payback time will be cut. Origin Energy also owns a 19% stake in Geodynamics and offers Green Earth electricity from 100% renewable sources to Australian electricity consumers. For more green energy in Australia see the government Green Power website.

Geothermal Energy: Hot Dry Rock

Article in The Age on Australian Alternative Energy Grants

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Alternative Energy Hungary: First Windfarm in Hungary


Austrian company Öko-Energia GmbH is to invest Ft60 billion ($284.6 million) in establishing the first wind farm in Hungary, in the south Rábaköz region, 150km west of Budapest. Forty-eight wind turbines will be built, at a price of between Ft500-800m ($2.37-3.79m) and producing 2,000 kilowatts per hour.

Although the company has yet to sign any agreements with the landowners, according to Lajos Takács, the mayor of Dénesfa, this won't hinder the project. "I am sure the company will be able to come to an agreement with the property owners," Takács said.

Budapest Sun Article on Hungary's First Windfarm

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Alternative Energy in Central America

Managua, Nicaragua

Cancún, Mexico - With the signing of an energy partnership with Mexico, Central America is poised to see a steady supply of oil and natural gas from its northern neighbor.

Mexico's focus on hydrocarbons was clear in the plan, drafted by Mexican officials, which ranked development of alternative energy as only the seventh out of eight priorities for the region.

"Petroleum is an addiction; it's like a drug," Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco retorted during the meeting. "We have to understand that it's not going to be available forever."

Costa Rica has led the region in alternative energy, with 90 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric, geothermal and wind-powered generators, according to Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Costa Rica's energy and environment minister.

Nicaragua and El Salvador have also been investing in alternative energy projects. El Salvador gets 50 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources, according to Ismael Sánchez, a professor of energy sciences at the Universidad Centroamericana Jose Simeon Cañas in El Salvador.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Alternative Energy Kazakhstan: Wind Power

Tian Shan Mountains

Kazakhstan plans to build a five megawatt wind power station by 2010 at Dzungarian Gates near the Chinese border as part of an electric energy industry development programme.

The Global Environmental Facility approved a fund of $2.5 million, while the government allotted $4 million. The United Nations Development Program expressed support in the project and intends to provide technical aid to support development of wind power industry in Kazakhstan, according to local reports.

Kazakhstan has the world's largest potential of wind power resources per capita, according to the Kazakh research and development institute Kazselenergoproekt. It is estimated at 1.82 trillion kilowatts per hour.

According to Kazselenergoproekt, Kazakhstan has a unique geographical location in the wind belt of the Northern Hemisphere. The research institute has identified 15 promising sites to construct large wind power stations. Experts note that the "intensity of wind potential in a number of locations in the country is as high as 10 megawatt per a square kilometer - such wind potential is unique". Particularly promising is the potential of Dzungarian Gates and Shelek Corridor, located near the Chinese border.

About 90 percent of Kazakhstan’s electricity is generated from coal and gas. The remaining 10 percent comes from hydroelectric power. The move is part of Kazakhstan's efforts to develop alternative energy as it aims to alleviate dependence on oil and gas revenues. Wind power, solar energy, hydropower and biomass are part of this diversification program. The plan aims to build 500 megawatts of installed wind power capacity by 2030.

Source: Government of Kazakhstan

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Energy Freedom Challenge: Clean Energy Capital of the United States of America

Austin 8 News reports that Austin, Texas is to host a nationwide competition and the prize is the title of "Clean Energy Capital of the U.S."

The group Solar Austin pitched the idea of the contest to the U.S. Department of Energy. The group received a $45,000 grant to organize and host the contest. "Renewables have become a real attractive source for any community, any city," Solar Austin Co-Director Jane Pulaski said. She is convinced alternative energy has become so attractive, cities across the nation would be willing to compete to see which can move away from fossil fuels first.

"Clean Energy Capital of the U.S., I mean, who wouldn't want that title?" Pulaski added the title would attract new businesses, residents and positive publicity for the community that earned it.
In August Solar Austin received the grant to organize, market and host the contest in its first year. On Wednesday, the group officially launched the contest with an evening fundraiser.

The Energy Freedom Challenge is a race to see which city in the U.S.A. can be the first to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geo-thermal, methane and biomass power by the year 2025.

Right now Austin receives 5 percent of its energy from either wind, solar or landfill methane power; well short of hitting the 50 percent mark.

Austin can expect plenty of competition from other cities for the clean energy title from places like Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Chicago, New York, and New Jersey.

The Union of Concerned Scientists will be in charge of establishing the rules, metrics and qualifications for the contest.

Solar Austin expects to have cities signed up to compete by early next year. Austin will be both the host and a competitor in the first year.

Austin's Green Choice program already sells more renewable energy to customers than any other program in the country.

Green Choice allows Austin Energy customers to choose to have their power come from wind or solar sources. The program is so popular Austin Energy had to place new subscribers on a waiting list. One of the city's wind farms is expanding this winter. Austin Energy hopes to open up the Green Choice wait list once the expansion is finished in February.

The clean energy contest will be run in Austin, Texas for the next 20 years.

Full Austin8News Article