Renewables

China Is Showing the World What Renewable Energy Dominance Looks Like, Says New IEA Report

20 Oct 2017   China, Renewables

The growth of solar energy continues to outpace forecasts and this growth, according to a report published today by the International Energy Agency , “is a China story.” While China today is far and away the global leader in solar generation, a decade ago, the country had just 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed. That’s nothing. For reference, it’s actually less than is currently installed in the city of San Antonio . By the end of 2016, China had increased its solar PV capacity by nearly 800 times, with more than 77 gigawatts currently installed. China’s solar dominance is only going to keep growing, according to the IEA report. As Dr. Paolo Frankl, one of the lead authors on the report, said on a call to reporters, “In one year, China will install the equivalent of the total history of solar development in Germany.” The Renewables 2017 […]

Iowa governor says Trump, EPA chief promise to protect US ethanol law

19 Oct 2017   Biofuels, USA

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said President Donald Trump and the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency both promised to protect the US biofuel mandate in calls to her Wednesday, despite recent signs the administration may want to weaken the law. “Both of them personally affirmed to me their continued commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Reynolds said in a press conference after calls with the White House and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Markets for Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, did not react sharply to the news. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump “didn’t make any assurances” on the RFS during the call with Reynolds. Article continues below… Request a free trial of: Biofuelscan Would you like to get a closer look at Platts Biofuelscan? Use the request a free trial link and we will send you five issues free for your review. Biofuelscan covers the latest worldwide […]

Rooftop solar carving out a niche in China

17 Oct 2017   China, Solar

Rooftop solar power options offer a unique position in the world’s second-largest economy, ReneSola said. File photo by Craig Russell/Shutterstock Oct. 16 (UPI) — Installing solar panels on rooftops across China will position the only U.S.-listed company in the market as the clear leader, ReneSola announced Monday. ReneSola, which became listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2009, said it generated 29 million kilowatt hours of solar-powered electricity in the third quarter. That’s loosely enough power to meet the energy needs of 2,500 homes for a year. The company said Monday it viewed rooftop solar power opportunities as ripe in the Chinese market. It has more than 130 megawatts of rooftop projects under development across the company and said it wanted to boost that to as high as 200 MW by the end of the year. “We are on track in our goal of developing 150-200 MW of […]

Your Next Home Could Run on Batteries

16 Oct 2017   Renewables

A customer inspects a Tesla Motors Inc. Powerwall unit inside a home in Monkton, Vt., in May 2016. Vermont’s largest electric utility, Green Mountain Power, in partnership with Tesla Energy, is offering 2,000 customers the chance to have a Powerwall in their home for $15 a month. You might not even know your lights are being kept on by the same chemical process that powers your smartphone, since the batteries could be tucked into what looks like a neighborhood junction box, or behind a fence in a substation. But now, thanks to efforts by startups and the utility companies they sell to (and sometimes battle), you might get one right inside your home. The rise of these home batteries isn’t just a product of our collective obsession with new tech. Their adoption is being driven by a powerful need, says Ravi Manghani, of GTM Research: renewable energy. Without batteries […]

Ceramic Pump That Takes the Heat Promises Cheap, Efficient Grid Storage

16 Oct 2017   Energy Storage

Scientists have developed a ceramic pump that can operate at 1,400 ˚C, several hundred degrees hotter than existing heat transfer systems, opening up significant new possibilities for energy storage. Specifically, the authors of the new study , published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, believe it could be used to develop an efficient grid storage system that could eventually help make renewable sources like wind and solar as cheap and reliable as natural-gas plants (see “ Serial Battery Entrepreneur’s New Venture Tackles Clean Energy’s Biggest Problem ”). The thermal storage system in question would use liquid metals like molten silicon, which would enable the storage and transfer of heat energy at far higher temperatures than materials typically used, such as molten salts. Higher temperatures mean that more thermal energy can be converted to mechanical or electrical energy, improving overall efficiency. Manage your newsletter preferences “This is enabling us to […]

Stanford’s Ultra-Cheap Batteries Are Ushering in a New Age in Energy

16 Oct 2017   Energy Storage

A team of researchers from Stanford University has developed a battery using sodium that costs much less than lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries could offer a cheaper alternative to lithium without sacrificing performance. Let’s Get Salty Researchers from Stanford University have developed an inexpensive alternative to lithium-ion batteries that could better help us prepare for a renewable energy future. The group was able to create a sodium-based battery that can store the same amount of energy as a lithium-based battery at less than 80 percent of the cost. Other researchers have created sodium-based batteries in the past, but this new approach promises to be more cost-effective. “Nothing may ever surpass lithium in performance,” said chemical engineer Zhenan Bao “But lithium is so rare and costly that we need to develop high-performance but low-cost batteries based on abundant elements like sodium.” The sodium in the Stanford battery binds to a […]

Canada Wants to Solve U.S. Nuclear Woes With Faraway Dams

14 Oct 2017   Canada, Hydro

Hydro-Quebec seeks to supply energy to New York, Massachusetts Power would help replace losses from closing nuclear reactors The key to replacing aging nuclear plants in the U.S. Northeast may lie 1,000 miles away, along a remote river tumbling through the Canadian wilderness. In boreal forests above the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Hydro-Quebec is building a series of dams that will generate enough electricity for more than one million homes. The $5.2 billion project on the Romaine River is part of a sweeping expansion the government-owned utility began in 2007, with the intention of selling power to the U.S. where nuclear reactors are closing. It’s not clear Americans will buy. While New York and Massachusetts want to avoid fossil fuels when they replace the soon-to-be-shuttered Indian Point and Pilgrim nuclear plants, wind and solar developers are also jockeying for the job. That’s left Hydro-Quebec, Emera Inc. , Nalcor Energy […]

New Tech Is Transforming Japan’s Energy Sector

13 Oct 2017   Japan, Solar

With Fukishima’s nuclear reactors set to restart for the first time since 2011’s meltdown, you could be forgiven if you missed another bit of recent energy-related news from the east-central prefecture: an exciting blockchain-powered pilot has just been given the green light. If successful, it could change the way Fukishima – and perhaps indeed the whole country – consumes, generates and trades electricity. Bitcoin-related developments are now on the rise in the Land of the Rising Sun, for the first time in a long time. And even if 2017 has seen a few bumps in the road for pioneers (with virtual exchanges under “full” surveillance beginning this month and a cryptocurrency crackdown in nearby China), Japan’s policy makers, industry leaders and tech gurus seem to be close to a consensus on cryptocurrency. They seem to agree that while China hesitates, Japan can take advantage – and surge ahead in […]

Can Deep Water Wind Farms Power The World?

12 Oct 2017   Wind

Far out to sea, amid the crashing waves of the North Atlantic, there’s a fortune to be made. According to new research, deep water wind farms could produce enough energy to meet all existing and future electricity demand, if properly harnessed. In a study published on October 9 by researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University, it’s estimated that deep water offshore turbines could produce three to five times as much energy as land-based turbines, due to the higher speeds and consistent force of the wind at sea. One ‘small’ wind farm, covering 70 thousand square kilometers, could provide enough electricity to power the entire United States for ten years, according to the study. A major factor in generating wind power is the movement of energy from higher in the atmosphere to the surface, where the turbines can transform it into electricity. The researchers found that […]

Solar Grew Faster Than All Other Forms of Power for the First Time

5 Oct 2017   Solar

Renewables enjoyed record installations in 2016, IEA says Forecaster sees solar dominating the renewables industry Solar power grew faster than any other source of fuel for the first time in 2016, the International Energy Agency said in a report suggesting the technology will dominate renewables in the years ahead. The institution established after the first major oil crisis in 1973 said 165 gigawatts of renewables were completed last year, which was two-thirds of the net expansion in electricity supply. Solar powered by photovoltaics, or PVs, grew by 50 percent, with almost half of new plants built in China. “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said in a statement accompanying the report published on Wednesday in Paris. “We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.” This […]

IEA: “Era Of Expensive Renewables Is Over”

5 Oct 2017   Renewables

After a record breaking year in 2016 for solar PV, the IEA overhauled its forecast for the next five years, significantly raising the projected growth profile for renewable energy. In its new report, Renewables 2017 , the IEA argued that it now sees renewable energy as a serious global force, increasingly taking market share away from coal and natural gas. The Paris-based energy agency cited 2016 as a watershed moment, a year in which 164 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity came online around the world, more than triple the amount of new gas-fired power plants, and more than twice the volume of coal. (Click to enlarge) That explosive growth was made possible because solar PV has arrived as a major source of new electricity supply, adding 74 GW of new capacity in 2016, a 50 percent expansion from the year earlier. China accounted for half of those additions. […]

IEA lifts global renewables forecast to 2022 by 12% on China solar growth

5 Oct 2017   China, Solar

Global renewable electricity capacity will surge by over 920 GW between 2017 and 2022, a rise of 43% on current installed capacity, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday in its annual renewables report. Renewables to add 920 GW capacity over 2017-22 driven by solar China, India, US will account for two-thirds of expansion Europe to fall behind with 40% less additions forecast 2017-22 According to the IEA’s Renewables 2017 report, this year’s forecast is 12% higher than last year, due mostly to solar PV revisions in China and India. RELATED CONTENT Video: German election results bring coal exit, carbon pricing back on agenda Blog post: Solar to power Middle East oil, natural gas exports Three countries – China, India and the United States – will account for two-thirds of global renewable expansion by 2022, it said. “We see renewables growing by about 1,000 GW by 2022, which equals about […]

New Form Of Alternate Energy To Power International Horse Show

5 Oct 2017   Biofuels, Finland

A Finland utility is expected to use horse manure to power the entire Helsinki International Horse Show later this month, according to a press release from Finnish utility, Fortum. And while the jokes practically write themselves, the headway of this alternative energy is serious business. The entire event will be powered by a manure/wood-based bedding combination—all 135 tonnes that will be generated during the event by the 250 horses attending—from lighting, scoreboards, and more. Electricity consumption at the event is expected to be about 140 MWh. The energy output would require the equivalent of the annual manure output of 14 horses. The poop-bedding mixture will be transported from the event by Fortum HorsePower to Fortum’s power plant where it will be used to produce the energy needed. “I am really proud that electricity produced with horse manure can be utilized for an event that is important to equestrian fans […]

Submerged Turbines Could Replace 10 Nuclear Reactors In Japan

3 Oct 2017   Japan, Tidal

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) researchers have developed turbines to convert the power of ocean waves into clean, renewable energy. Professor Shintake and the Quantum Wave Microscopy Unit at OIST began by starting a project titled “Sea Horse,” aiming to harness energy from the Kuroshio ocean current that flows from the eastern coast of Taiwan and around the southern parts of Japan. That project used submerged turbines anchored to the sea floor through mooring cables that convert the kinetic energy of sustained natural currents in the Kuroshio into usable electricity, which is then delivered by cables to the land. The initial phase of the project was successful, and the Unit is now searching for industry partners to continue into the next phase. But the OIST researchers also desired an ocean energy source that was cheaper and easier to maintain. This is where the vigor of the ocean’s […]

Shell to Seek Sale of Stake in $1.4 Billion Wind Farm

3 Oct 2017   Wind

Company and partners may cut wind-farm ownership by up to 45% Group won the 700-megawatt project in auction last year Royal Dutch Shell Plc and its partners Eneco Holdings NV and Mitsubishi Corp. are seeking to sell a stake in two Dutch offshore wind-farm projects that may cost $1.4 billion to develop, two people familiar with the plan said. The companies are looking to reduce their ownership in the Borssele III and IV wind farms by as much as 45 percent, according to the people who asked not to be named because they aren’t authorized to speak about it publicly. The fourth partner, infrastructure contractor Van Oord NV, is keeping its share of the project. The move would allow the companies to scale back financial exposure to the wind farms and redeploy the cash in new projects with the potential for higher returns. Shell has said only that it […]

Abu Dhabi Expands Worldwide Solar Investments

2 Oct 2017   Abu Dhabi, Solar

In May Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) closed a project finance agreement for the 1.17-GW Noor Abu Dhabi, a project set to be the largest independent solar plant in the world. The photovoltaic (PV) facility will cost $872m – of which $650m will be debt and $222m equity – and is slated to be operational by the second quarter of 2019. Located in Sweihan, 120 km south-east of the capital, the project is being implemented by the Sweihan PV Power Company, a consortium led by ADWEA (60 percent) alongside Japan’s Marubeni Corporation (20 percent) and China’s JinkoSolar Holding (20 percent). The May announcement comes on the heels of a power purchase agreement in March stipulating that Marubeni and JinkoSolar would construct, own, operate and maintain the PV plant under a 25-year deal. In terms of capacity, Noor will be larger than India’s 648-MW Kamuthi Solar Power Project […]

Morocco Boosts Solar Investments To Benefit Agriculture

2 Oct 2017   Morocco, Solar

In early August the Ministry of Energy, Mining and Sustainable Development (Ministère de l’Energie, des Mines et du Développement Durable, MEMDD) earmarked Dh2.3bn (€206.1m) for investments in solar power, to be directed towards projects capable of lifting agricultural output. The capital will be used to promote the use of solar energy to power water pumps for irrigation as part of a plan to expand agricultural water access to more than 100,000 ha of new land by 2021. The move should also help reduce consumption of butane gas in farming operations, part of broader government efforts to shift towards clean energy. Solar capacity expands at the Noor Ouarzazate complex The government of Morocco has been pursuing renewable energy for some time. In mid-2016 Noor II and Noor III, the second and third facilities of the massive Noor solar power complex near Ouarzazate, were commissioned. Estimated to cost $9bn in total, […]

Ice And Drones: The Future Of Wind Energy

2 Oct 2017   Wind

Parts of the world with incredible wind energy potential have long been inaccessible to wind farms. But with the completion of the first offshore wind farm built to withstand ice-prone conditions, the industry has clearly evolved. When it comes to cold-weather climates, wind farm designers face a variety of concerns, notably the impact of low temperatures on the turbines and the collection of ice on the turbines and snow. When the industry first began, developers knew the consequences of ice accumulation. That’s why the very first wind farm was located on Grandpa’s Knob in Rutland, Vermont. They selected this particular mountain despite more elevated ones being available precisely because they wanted to avoid the possibility of structural failure. Today, things have changed. At the end of the summer 2017, Finland wind power production company Suomen Hyötytuuli Oy took over the country’s Tahkoluoto offshore wind farm. The project began in […]

Trump Told Iowa He’d Save Ethanol. His EPA Chief Has Other Ideas

30 Sep 2017   Biofuels, USA

As he sought votes during last year’s Iowa caucuses, candidate Donald Trump courted farmers with praise for ethanol and promises that he would boost the home-grown fuel. Now those farmers and other biofuel supporters say the people President Trump has put in charge of the issue in Washington are instead boosting their fossil-fuel rivals. “This seems like a bait-and-switch,” Iowa’s senior Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, said on the Senate floor this week. “Big Oil and oil refineries are prevailing, despite assurances to the contrary.” The issue is politically precarious for Trump, as it pits the oil industry against Midwest voters who helped elect him. Trump repeatedly vowed to “protect” ethanol. But he loaded his cabinet with allies of the oil industry, which views the Renewable Fuel Standard that mandates biofuel use as costly and burdensome. Ethanol producers are most vexed by Scott Pruitt, the head of the […]

Solar Costs Are Dropping Much Faster Than Expected

26 Sep 2017   Solar

Back in 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began something called The SunShot Initiative . The intent was to set 2020 and 2030 targets making solar power more affordable in three categories: utility-scale generation, commercial, and residential. Well, the DOE recently announced that we hit the 2020 goal for utility generation… three years early. Now, these goals don’t take subsidies into account. It’s the actual technology that’s getting more and more cost-effective. In other words, solar power is quickly maturing. Here’s where it’s going next… Solar Power Costs are Falling Quickly The targets are set in something called a “levelized cost of energy” (LCOE). This measures the cost of electricity generated by solar energy systems in a way that is comparable to the cost of electricity from other sources. The goal is to have solar become competitive with conventional power sources. LCOE is calculated by combining the initial […]

Emerging markets poised to lead pack on renewable energy

25 Sep 2017   Renewables

Emerging markets are set to eclipse developed nations next year in their capacity to generate wind and solar power as equipment costs fall and the energy market approaches “peak coal”, according to Moody’s, the credit rating agency. While developed countries have long been leaders in renewable power generation, emerging economies are close to overtaking them, bringing their total installed capacity of wind and solar to 307GW and 272GW — respectively 51 per cent and 53 per cent of global capacity, according to Moody’s calculations. China accounts for the lion’s share of the upsurge. But Middle East and north African countries are scheduled to have installed 14GW in solar plants by the end of 2018 — a seven-fold increase from 2015. Central and South America are also expected to reach 14GW, nearly five times more than in 2015, while India is set to hit 28GW, a jump of nearly six times. “Everyone knows the cost of installing solar and wind energy has been coming down, but recently we have seen prices hitting extreme lows in places such as Mexico, Chile, India and Abu Dhabi,” said Swami Venkataraman, senior vice-president at Moody’s Investors Service. “This fall in costs is definitely changing the calculus of [emerging market] governments, allowing them to pursue renewables much more aggressively,” he added. Another factor is the onset of “peak coal” in the energy market. In 2013, the US Energy Information Administration projected that world coal demand would rise 39 per cent by 2040. Now it is expecting growth of just 1 per cent.

Germany gets economic lift with wind energy

23 Sep 2017   Germany, Wind

With the start of construction of a new wind farm off the coast of Germany, officials said the nation’s economy was supported through low-carbon efforts. German energy company E.ON, with support from Norway’s Statoil, hosted a ceremony to mark the start of construction for the Arkona offshore wind farm, which formally started in late August. Christian Pegel, a regional Germany energy minister, said the wind project represented an important economic milestone because of its new job creation potential. “The Arkona offshore wind project is a key investment in the expansion of wind power,” he said in a statement . E.ON laid the first of the 60 foundations for the wind farm in national waters of the Baltic Sea in late August . Foundations […]

Japan fires up biomass energy, but fuel shortage looms

22 Sep 2017   Biofuels, Japan

As the sun sets on Japan’s solar energy boom, companies and investors are rushing into wood-burning biomass projects to lock in still-high government subsidies. More than 800 projects have already won government approval, offering 12.4 gigawatts (GW) of capacity — equal to 12 nuclear power stations and nearly double Japan’s 2030 target for biomass in its basic energy policy. The sheer number of projects has raised questions about how they will all find sufficient fuel, mostly shipped in from countries like Canada and Vietnam, while some experts question the environmental credentials of such large-scale plants. The projects approved to date that use general wood fuel would need the equivalent of up to 60 million tonnes of wood pellets, compared with […]

French company Total steps into solar energy market

20 Sep 2017   France, Solar

In an announcement ahead of the French president’s speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Total said it took a greater stake in a renewable power company. The French supermajor said Tuesday it made a $284.7 million investment to take an indirect 23 percent stake in renewable power company EREN RE. Total said could eventually take the company over completely within the next five years. “EREN RE’s momentum will allow us to accelerate our growth in solar energy and move us into the wind power market,” Philippe Sauquet, the president in charge of gas, renewables and power for Total, said in a statement . “The agreement with EREN RE is a major step towards our objective of […]

Dubai awards $3.9 billion solar energy contract to Shanghai Electric, ACWA Power

18 Sep 2017   Solar

Dubai’s state energy utility awarded a $3.9 billion contract to build and run a 700 megawatt solar power plant to a consortium comprising Shanghai Electric and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power, the government said on Saturday. The project will feature a 260-metre (850-foot) tower receiving focused sunlight, the world’s tallest such tower, the government said. The consortium bid to supply electricity to Dubai for 7.3 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour. The first stage of the project is due to be commissioned in late 2020. It is part of the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park, a vast complex which is projected to generate 1,000MW by 2020 and 5,000MW by 2030. The government aims to use the solar park and other energy sources to increase the share of clean energy in Dubai’s power output to 7 percent by 2020, 25 percent by 2030 and 75 percent by 2050. […]

How (Not) to Run a Modern Society on Solar and Wind Power Alone

16 Sep 2017   Solar, Wind

While the potential of wind and solar energy is more than sufficient to supply the electricity demand of industrial societies, these resources are only available intermittently. To ensure that supply always meets demand, a renewable power grid needs an oversized power generation and transmission capacity of up to ten times the peak demand. It also requires a balancing capacity of fossil fuel power plants, or its equivalent in energy storage. Consequently, matching supply to demand at all times makes renewable power production a complex, slow, expensive and unsustainable undertaking. Yet, if we would adjust energy demand to the variable supply of solar and wind energy, a renewable power grid could be much more advantageous. Using wind and solar energy only when they’re available is a traditional concept that modern technology can improve upon significantly. 100% Renewable Energy It is widely believed that in the future, renewable energy production will […]

With high-performance cells, China takes aim at high-end solar market

14 Sep 2017   China, Solar

China, blighted by pollution and long known for churning out cheap manufactured goods, is looking to dominate the high-end of a major growth market: solar power. Under a new program, China is pushing the industry to mass market high-performance solar cells so far used mainly in high-tech products like satellites. Making these cells more affordable will likely further boost a sector that has already disrupted global electricity generation. It will also put pressure on international solar cell makers such as Canadian Solar, REC Solar, Sharp and Sunpower which compete with Chinese leaders including LONGi Green Energy Technology, Trina Solar and JA Solar Holdings. Under its 2017 “Top Runner Program”, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) plans to add 8-10 gigawatt (GW) of solar capacity to its existing 80 GW. “This shift … could have far-reaching implications for the global solar industry, especially vaulting China into the top […]

The Two Nations Leading The Wind Power Race

China and the UK have teamed up to develop the next generation of offshore wind power capacity, with a focus on identifying the best locations for the new installations and making them more resilient to harsh weather conditions including typhoons and earthquakes. The UK’s Natural Environment Research Council said research teams from the two countries will work together on five projects, to receive funding from the Joint UK-China Renewable Energy program as well as financial support from NERC and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. The UK and China are among the leaders in renewable energy globally, and their new tie-up will solidify their position at the top of the clean-energy-adopters list. The UK already has the largest offshore wind capacity in Europe, and last year a quarter of all electricity generation came from renewables. China last year installed 23.4 GW of new wind capacity, which accounted for […]

India’s second largest state seeks to quash Goldman-backed solar project

9 Sep 2017   India, Solar

India’s second largest state has appealed to the country’s top court to quash a Goldman Sachs-backed solar project, highlighting the challenges faced by solar companies looking to expand in Asia’s third largest economy. Madhya Pradesh’s attempts to scrap the agreement with ReNew Power over the 51 megawatts (MW) project, citing land acquisition delays, were thrown out by a state court. But the central Indian state’s distribution company (discom) has now appealed to the country’s highest court, potentially setting up a prolonged legal battle. The move comes after Madhya Pradesh canceled three solar power purchase deals with Canada-based Sky Power Global, also due to issues related to land acquisitions. Sky Power challenged the cancellations in the state high court, but lost the case. India is targeting a 30-fold increase in solar power generation capacity to 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2022. But the plan risks running into […]

Last of the 67 turbines for a British wind farm installed

Statoil, a Norwegian oil and gas company with a footprint in renewables, said the last of the 67 turbines at a wind facility off the British coast is in place. Statoil said the last of the 67 turbines at the Dudgeon wind farm off the British coast are in place. By next month, the facility could provide service for 410,000 average British homes at peak capacity, though phased installations meant households started receiving electricity in February. Apart from Russia, Norway is one of the leading oil and natural gas suppliers to the European market. Statoil is its main energy company, but said wind energy was a natural fit. “Dudgeon offshore wind farm is part of Statoil’s strategy of […]

Texas makes wind energy strides

7 Sep 2017   Wind

Two wind farms in Texas will become the second- and third-largest facilities with extra storage capacity installed so far, a German power company said. German energy company E.ON said it started construction on a 20 megawatt storage facility to service its Inadale and Pyron wind facilities in the west of Texas. “With both the industrial-scale 10 MW plants, E.ON is expanding its role as an important player in the North American power storage market,” the company said in a statement . “These are the second and third-largest lithium ion battery systems which are connected to the network which E.ON has installed in the United States.” By state, Texas, the No. 1 oil producer in the United States, has the most installed wind […]

Big Energy Backs Hydrogen Power Storage

6 Sep 2017   Renewables

Projects seek to hold electricity for weeks or months Technology remains expensive, may take decades to develop The secret to switching the global energy system entirely to renewables may lay in the universe’s most abundant substance. Hydrogen has drawn backing from big energy companies from Royal Dutch Shell Plc to Uniper SE in addition to carmakers BMW AG and Audi AG . They’re supporting research into how the element can be used to store energy for weeks or even months beyond what lithium-ion batteries can manage. While industry’s investment in hydrogen is small at just $2.5 billion over the last decade, the work offers an answer to the elusive question of how electricity could be kept for use in the future. Batteries increasingly are shifting power from day to night, but they tend to go flat after a few weeks. Hydrogen can be kept indefinitely in tanks. That would […]

Tesla’s New Frontier: Batteries And Wind

6 Sep 2017   Wind

Electric car builder Tesla and wind turbine manufacturer Vestas have combined forces to create an energy storage system based on wind power

Saudi Arabia Shortlists 25 Bidders For First Utility-Scale Wind Plant

30 Aug 2017   Saudi Arabia, Wind

Saudi Arabia has shortlisted 25 companies that qualify to bid for proposals to build a 400-MW wind power plant in the northern part of the Kingdom, in what would be the first utility-scale wind power project, the Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) of Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry said on Tuesday. REPDO has qualified 25 companies—including major players in renewables such as Acciona, Enel Green Power, EDF Energies Nouvelles as well as technology giants such as GE, units of Siemens, Marubeni, and Mitsui, among others—to bid for the 400-MW Dumat Al Jandal project. The qualified companies will proceed to the Request for Proposals (RFP) stage as either ‘managing members’ or ‘technical members’ – or both – based on their experience in delivering IPP projects of this scale, the Saudi ministry said. Saudi Arabia invited initial bids in July, and the interested companies had until August 10 to present their […]

NREL, Swiss scientists create silicon-based multijunction solar cells that reach nearly 36% efficiency

28 Aug 2017   Solar

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created tandem solar cells with record efficiencies of converting sunlight into electricity under 1-sun illumination. Their paper appears in the new issue of Nature Energy . In testing silicon-based multijunction solar cells, the researchers found that the highest dual-junction efficiency (32.8%) came from a tandem cell that stacked a layer of gallium arsenide (GaAs) developed by NREL atop a film of crystalline silicon developed by CSEM. An efficiency of 32.5% was achieved using a gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) top cell, which is a similar structure to the previous record efficiency of 29.8% […]

First foundations set for Baltic Sea wind farm

25 Aug 2017   Germany, Wind

 German energy company E.ON said Thursday it laid the first of the 60 foundations for a wind farm development in national waters of the Baltic Sea. The German company said it’s deploying the 60 so-called monopiles about 25 miles offshore. Foundations for a common substation were installed last month and the entire project could start generating energy for German consumers by 2019. Nine countries that share a border with the North Sea — Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden — agreed last year to improve infrastructure to support offshore wind. Germany leads among European nations in terms of offshore wind energy growth, though Great Britain has more offshore wind capacity installed. Germany has one of the […]

Minor Market Reforms Are Called Enough to Support Electric Grid

24 Aug 2017   Solar, USA, Wind

A widely anticipated federal report suggests minor market reforms can help ensure a reliable electric power grid and shies away from handouts to struggling coal and nuclear-power producers. The Energy Department study of the electric grid says cheap natural gas is the primary culprit behind dozens of coal and nuclear plant closings in recent years. Renewables and expanding regulations are only secondary factors, says the study, which suggests more research investment can help the grid better adapt to increasing wind and solar power. When Energy Secretary Rick Perry commissioned the study in April, some in the coal and nuclear industries anticipated that it would encourage the federal government to help them. And critics alleged rhetoric from Mr. Perry suggested he was prescribing conclusions for a rollback of regulations or government […]

Renewables: Trump’s Key To U.S. Energy Dominance?

23 Aug 2017   Renewables, USA

Since a pro-oil administration entered the White House, the oil industry lobby has praised the ‘America-First’ energy strategy, while proponents of cleaner energy have been arguing that the U.S. needs a more diversified energy mix in which renewables should have a greater share. The pro-oil camp—like President Trump–argues that more oil and gas drilling will boost American energy independence, create many more jobs, and ultimately lead to American energy dominance . The other point of view is that, despite skeptics, climate change is here and is a threat, and the U.S. should use more renewable energy in its energy mix if it is to stand a chance against global warming and keep pace with the rest of the world in terms of clean energy development. Last week, the debate was the center of the point/counterpoint articles in The State-Journal Register, in which Jack N. Gerard, president and CEO of […]

Solar eclipse’s effect on power demand proved a yawn for utilities

23 Aug 2017   Solar

Monday’s solar eclipse had no major impact on electricity demand in affected areas of the United States, according to grid operators and utilities, many of which had lined up alternative power supplies. Customers who left their homes and offices to enjoy the celestial display used less power and cooler temperatures in regions of the total eclipse helped lower demand for air conditioning, executives said. In the end, the eclipse led to fewer calls on power to replace renewables. PJM Interconnection, which coordinates power among 13 states from Michigan to North Carolina, said power demand declined rather than increased as expected across its territory during the eclipse. “PJM had expected a reduction in power from rooftop panels to result in an increase in electric demand on the grid,” said […]

Refiner Valero’s secret campaign against U.S. biofuels mandates

22 Aug 2017   Biofuels

U.S. biofuels regulations, which mandate mixing corn-based ethanol into gasoline, have lately drawn together a diverse cast of political opponents. They include an upstart gas station owners’ trade group, a former Obama administration environmental adviser and billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, who owns a refiner and served as U.S. President Donald Trump’s special advisor on business regulation – until he resigned Friday amid allegations of a conflict of interest. Even the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a leading biofuels industry group, recently dropped its opposition to policy changes sought by this ad hoc coalition. These players would seem to have few shared interests, but they share one key connection – close ties to Valero Energy Corp. ( VLO.N ), America’s largest oil refiner. As part of an extensive behind-the-scenes […]

Why Tesla Is Interested In Offshore Wind

21 Aug 2017   Wind

Platt’s recently reported that global offshore wind capacity could double to 34 GWs by 2020, growing at a compound rate of 19 percent per year. The rapid expansion would be driven chiefly by new capacity in the North Sea and China. In fact, offshore capacity in East Asia will outstrip that of Europe by 2022. But what about the U.S.? Rapidly declining costs, improving reliability and the success of the first offshore installation in Rhode Island are encouraging companies to take further chances on offshore wind. New offshore projects are attracting the interest and attention of major energy companies, as wind power continues to increase its share of the total U.S. energy market. Leases for offshore wind development are being snapped up by European energy companies, which have decades of experience installing offshore wind farms. Royal Dutch/Shell has been investing in electricity start-ups and other ventures to improve its […]

Floating solar power: new frontier for green-leaning water utilities

18 Aug 2017   Solar

Lakes and ponds used by water utilities have long been viewed with a single purpose: holding water. Now a handful of pioneering water utilities are looking at their aquatic real estate with a new purpose in mind: solar energy generation. Large-scale floating solar projects have been installed in Japan and China, as well as on ponds at California wineries. But solar energy has remained primarily a terrestrial endeavor because, in most cases, it is simpler and cheaper to mount photovoltaic (solar) panels on land. That is beginning to change. The floats and other mounting components unique […]

EPA erred in denying renewable fuel hardship exemption: courts

16 Aug 2017   Biofuels

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used too strict of a test when it wrongfully denied Sinclair Oil’s request for an exemption from the country’s biofuel regulations, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The ruling could potentially broaden the rules governing such exemptions, forcing the EPA to grant more in future years under the controversial Renewable Fuel Standard program. The EPA denied Sinclair’s request for an exemption from a U.S. policy that requires refiners to blend biofuels like ethanol into their fuel pool or buy credits from those who do. The EPA ruled Sinclair did not qualify for an exemption under the policy’s hardship waiver for small refiners as the company’s two Wyoming plants were profitable and would not be forced to close if they participated in the program. But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled on Tuesday the threat of […]

Shell’s strategic move into electricity

Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to sell electricity direct to industrial customers is an intelligent and creative one. The shift is strategic and demonstrates that oil and gas majors are capable of adapting to a new world as the transition to a lower carbon economy develops. For those already in the business of providing electricity it represents a dangerous competitive threat. For the other oil majors it poses a direct challenge on whether they are really thinking about the future sufficiently strategically. The move starts small with a business in the UK that will start trading early next year. Shell will supply the business operations as a first step and it will then expand. But Britain is not the limit — Shell recently announced its intention of making similar sales in the US. Historically, oil and gas companies have considered a move into electricity as a step too far, with the sector seen as oversupplied and highly politicised because of sensitivity to consumer price rises. I went through three reviews during my time in the industry, each of which concluded that the electricity business was best left to someone else. What has changed? I think there are three strands of logic behind the strategy. First, the state of the energy market. The price of gas in particular has fallen across the world over the last three years to the point where the International Energy Agency describes the current situation as a “glut”. Meanwhile, Shell has been developing an extensive range of gas assets, with more to come. In what has become a buyer’s market it is logical to get closer to the customer — establishing long-term deals that can soak up the supply.

Inside the Fall, and Rebirth, of a Bill Gates–Backed Battery Startup

11 Aug 2017   Energy Storage

Aquion Energy’s abrupt bankruptcy filing in March left industry observers wondering what went so wrong, so quickly at the promising grid-battery startup. But now that the company has emerged from Chapter 11, founder Jay Whitacre is finally free to discuss what happened behind the scenes, and what comes next. In an exclusive interview with MIT Technology Review , Whitacre said the rebooted Aquion is a very different company, and one better positioned to succeed in the brutal storage business (see “ Why Bad Things Happen to Clean-Energy Startups ”). In a bankruptcy auction last month, the company was acquired by “ a majority-American joint venture ” that is closely affiliated with China Titans Energy Technology Group, a publicly traded investment holding company focused on grid technology. The new parent company brings along financial heft, manufacturing expertise, and direct connections to big energy operations in China, addressing crucial challenges Aquion […]

Tech Guru Unveils New Battery To Challenge Lithium-Ion

The rise of electric vehicles and the quest to find solutions to energy storage for the renewables industry have created a breeding ground for tech experts to develop battery technologies. Last week, Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy and the company he currently backs, Ionic Materials, unveiled a solid-state alkaline battery design that they claim would be cheaper and safer than the lithium-ion battery. “What people didn’t really realize is that alkaline batteries could be made rechargeable,” Joy told Bloomberg in a phone interview last week. “I think people had given up,” Joy noted. The three main possible applications of the new alkaline battery technology would be consumer electronics, electric cars, and energy storage for the power grid, according to the developers. However, also according to Joy, the company just has the material, and the technology is not ready to go commercial right away. The rechargeable alkaline battery technology could […]

Energy Suppliers Find Fresh Lift From Offshore Wind

7 Aug 2017   Wind

For more than three decades, Gulf Island Fabrication Inc. has built foundations to anchor offshore-oil platforms to the ocean floor. Now, as lower oil prices take a bite out of that business, it is trying to turn that expertise into an edge in a new business: offshore wind. The Houston-based company—which recently built the foundations for the first U.S. offshore wind farm, near Rhode Island—is one of many oil-and-gas industry…

Construction of world’s second largest hydropower station begins

3 Aug 2017   China, Hydro

A ceremony is held at the construction site of Baihetan project, which is located downstream of the Jinsha River, the upper section of the Yangtze, in Ningnan county of southwest China’s Sichuan Province and Qiaojia county of neighboring Yunnan Province, on Aug. 3, 2017. Building work on what will be the world’s second largest hydropower station started Thursday. (Xinhua/Sun Ronggang) Aerial photo taken on July 27, 2017 shows the construction site of Baihetan project, which is located downstream of the Jinsha River, […]

The Race For Floating Wind Farms Has Begun

3 Aug 2017   Wind

For the last six years Statoil has been testing game-changing offshore wind technology. The result: a floating wind turbine has been pulled from Norway to Scotland where the world’s first floating wind farm will be installed. The £190m Hywind project will ultimately see five 6 MW floating turbines in depths of up to 120m in an area close to 4km close to Peterhead. Each tower is taller than Big Ben, at 175m and the blades themselves are almost the wingspan of an Airbus at 75m long. At the bottom of each turbine is a 78m deep tube which is filled with iron ore. Average wind speeds here reach 10m per second and it’s expected it’ll provide enough power for around 20,000 homes. Hywind is building on a demo project that was run off the island of Karmøy. The turbines are being dragged from this site by remote-controlled submarines. What’s […]

Army Research Lab discovers aluminum nanomaterial rapidly splits water on contact

3 Aug 2017   Renewables

Researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) have discovered that a nano-galvanic aluminum-based powder of their design splits water on contact, producing hydrogen and oxygen. Scientists have known for a long time that hydrogen can be produced by adding a catalyst—such as sodium or potassium hydroxide or an acid—to aluminum. However, these methods take time, elevated temperature, and added electricity. The ARL powder does not need a catalyst; it is also very fast. “ We have calculated that one kilogram of aluminum powder can produce 220 kW of energy in just three minutes. That’s a lot of power to run any electrical equipment. These rates are the fastest known without using catalysts such as an acid, base or elevated temperatures ,” said Dr. Anit Giri, a physicist with the lab’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate. That metric doubles if you consider the amount of heat energy produced by […]