Hydro

$1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved

18 Nov 2017   Canada, Hydro, USA

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) approved on Thursday a US$1.6-billion Canada-New Hampshire transmission line project that has been languishing in regulatory purgatory since 2010. The line will deliver up to 1,090 MW of clean energy from Hydro-Québec’s hydroelectric plants in Canada to New Hampshire and the rest of New England. The 192-mile-long line proposes to deliver hydropower from Quebec to an existing substation in Deerfield, NH, and into New England’s electric grid. Northern Pass will help meet the region’s increasing demand for power, while decreasing carbon emissions by up to 3.2 million tons annually. According to Northern Pass, estimated wholesale electricity market benefits will be around US$600 million annually for New England and US$62 million a year for New Hampshire. Northern Pass construction is expected to create 2,600 jobs in New Hampshire during construction and boost the state’s GDP by an estimated US$2.2 billion over the construction period […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

In drastic move, China’s top hydropower plants slash capacity

10 Jul 2017   China, Hydro

The Three Gorges and Gezhouba, two of China’s top hydropower plants, have closed capacity by as much as two-thirds, state media said on Tuesday, as torrential rains across the south triggered drastic steps to ease pressure on the Yangtze River. Days of heavy rainfall have pushed water levels in more than 60 rivers in southern China above warning levels. Floods have damaged crops, forced hundreds of thousands from their homes and killed at least 33, while the north has wilted in a heat wave and drought-like conditions. The Three Gorges dam is the world’s biggest power station by far, with an installed generation capacity of 22,500 megawatts (MW), equivalent to about 20 coal-fired stations. The two power stations in Hubei province have stopped 26 generators, due to flood pressure in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Asia’s longest river, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said, citing […]

Tapping into Ocean Power

8 Mar 2017   Tidal, Waves

The oceans of the world are a vast unexploited source of clean, reliable and predictable renewable energy. Could this energy help replace fossil fuels and be a solution to climate change? Humans have been trying to harness ocean energy for centuries, beginning with a French engineer named Pierre-Simon Girard in 1799. The constant pounding of the waves and the ebb and flow of tidal currents, as well as other properties of the ocean, if harnessed, could produce 20,000 to 80,000 terawatt hours of electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. That is more than the world’s current energy consumption of almost 20,000 TWh The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the waves breaking along the U.S. coastline alone could generate 2,640 TWh each year. But since shipping, fishing, naval operations or environmental concerns take precedence in certain areas, the amount of power that is “recoverable” is estimated at 1,170 […]

Tidal Lagoon Energy in Wales

17 Feb 2017   Tidal, United Kingdom

The report of an independent review of UK tidal lagoon energy was published on 12 January 2017 by a former UK energy Minister Charles Hendry. The report praises the proposed ‘pathfinder’ tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay as a ‘no-regrets option’, and sets out a supportive case for developing the sector. The Hendry Review was commissioned in February 2016 by UK Government to assess the strategic case for tidal lagoon energy as a new industry in the UK. This followed a successful planning proposal by Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) to develop the world’s first tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, as well as a subsequent programme for a ‘fleet’ of five larger projects, including three in Welsh waters (Cardiff, Newport and Colwyn Bay). Despite the Swansea Bay project appearing in the 2015 UK Conservative Party manifesto and receiving development consent in June 2015, uncertainties around cost and subsidy subsequently prompted the […]

The world’s nine largest operating power plants are hydroelectric facilities

19 Oct 2016   Hydro

U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on International Commission on Large Dams and IAEA Power Reactor Information System Note: Japan’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear facility has not operated since being shut down in 2011 and has not submitted a restart application. An estimated 62,500 power plants are operating around the world, with a total installed generating capacity of more than 6,000 gigawatts (GW) in 2015. The nine largest operating power plants in the world by capacity are all hydroelectric power plants. Four of the world’s ten largest power plants are located in China, and all four of those plants began operating in the past 13 years. The world’s largest dam, Three Gorges, is located on the Yangtze River and has a capacity of 22.5 GW. Hydroelectric power is the second-largest source of electricity in China, after coal, and accounted for 20% of the country’s total generation in 2015. South America is […]

California eyes wind, wave potential

15 Oct 2016   Waves, Wind

California becomes the 14th coastal state in the country to form a task force examining the potential of wind and wave energy, the federal government said. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and California state representatives met in Sacramento for the first time to explore opportunities for wind and wave energy in state waters. A month ago, the federal government approved plans to set aside 10.9 million acres of land it manages in the California desert for conservation and renewable energy development. California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas said the state now looked forward to additional work for offshore energy alongside the BOEM. “California is currently implementing a comprehensive set of climate change policies, including 50 percent renewable energy […]

U.S. reviews options for wave-energy test site

18 Aug 2016   Waves

As much as $40 million may be available to help support the development of a wave-energy testing facility in U.S waters, the Energy Department said. “If successful, the advancements made possible by this work will further America’s progress in proving wave energy as a viable source for our nation’s clean energy future,” the department reported. The Energy Department last year deployed a wave energy prototype dubbed Azura at a test site at Kaneohe Bay off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Developer Northwest Energy Innovations, with help from a $5 million federal grant, tested an earlier prototype off the coast of Oregon in 2014. The government said the pilot project in Hawaii will give federal researchers the chance to monitor a wave energy converter for potential commercial […]

Several nonpowered dams along the Ohio River to be converted to hydroelectric dams in 2016

16 Jul 2016   Hydro, USA

In 2016, nearly 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity generating capacity is expected to come online from dams that did not previously have electric generating units, commonly referred to as nonpowered dams (NPDs). NPD capacity additions make up 92% of the 320 MW of planned hydroelectric capacity for 2016. Expected capacity additions at NPDs in 2016 are large compared to recent NPD additions, which totaled 126 megawatts (MW) over 2006–15, but relatively small compared with total U.S. hydroelectric capacity of nearly 80,000 MW as of April. The National Hydropower Association estimates that 3% of the nation’s 80,000 dams currently generate electricity. Existing conventional hydroelectric generators in the United States provided 251 million megawatthours of electricity in 2015, or about 6% of annual total net generation. Unlike other forms of renewable-fueled electricity, such as solar and wind, hydroelectric capacity additions have been relatively modest […]

For Storing Electricity, Utilities Are Turning to Pumped Hydro

1 Dec 2015   Hydro

High-tech batteries may be garnering the headlines. But utilities from Spain to China are increasingly relying on pumped storage hydroelectricity – first used in the 1890s – to overcome the intermittent nature of wind and solar power. In the past decade, wind energy production has soared in Spain, rising from 6 percent of the country’s electricity generation in 2004 to about 20 percent today . While that is certainly good news for boosters of clean energy, the surge in renewables has come with the challenge of ensuring that electric power is available when customers want it, not just when the wind blows. Photo credit: Iberdrola. Spain’s Cortes-La Muela project, which uses pumped hydro storage to produce electricity. To help accommodate the increased supply of wind, Spain’s utilities have turned not to high-tech, 21st-century batteries, but rather to a time-tested 19th-century technology — pumped storage hydroelectricity. Pumped storage facilities are […]

Will Tidal and Wave Energy Ever Live Up to Their Potential?

21 Oct 2015   Waves

As solar and wind power grow, another renewable energy source with vast potential — the power of tides and waves — continues to lag far behind. But progress is now being made as governments and the private sector step up efforts to bring marine energy into the mainstream. In the Pentland Firth, a strait that separates the Orkney Islands from Northern Scotland, strong tidal currents have challenged sailors for centuries. But some of that marine energy is now being captured through a project known as MeyGen. This summer, the Atlantis group began construction on a submerged tidal turbine array consisting of four, three-bladed, seabed-mounted turbines, enough to deliver 6 megawatts to the grid by 2016 and power approximately 3,000 Scottish homes. By the early 2020s, Atlantis is planning to build 269 turbines in the firth, capable of generating 398 megawatts of electricity, enough to power roughly 200,000 homes. On […]

Undamming Rivers: A Chance For New Clean Energy Source

11 Aug 2015   Hydro

Many hydroelectric dams produce modest amounts of power yet do enormous damage to rivers and fish populations. Why not take down these aging structures, build solar farms in the drained reservoirs, and restore the natural ecology of the rivers? Hydroelectric power is often touted as clean energy, but this claim is true only in the narrow sense of not causing air pollution. In many places, such as the U.S. East Coast, hydroelectric dams have damaged the ecological integrity of nearly every major river and have decimated runs of migratory fish. Conowingo Dam Photo credit: American Rivers. If Maryland’s Conowingo Dam were removed, large-scale solar projects could be built on the site of its drained 9,000-acre reservoir. This need not continue. Our rivers can be liberated from their concrete shackles, while also continuing to produce electricity at the site of former hydropower dams. How might that occur? A confluence of […]

U.S. wades deeper into marine energy

8 Jul 2015   Waves

Testing a prototype wave energy device at a U.S. Navy site in Hawaii will provide information needed to determine commercial possibilities, the government said. The U.S. Energy Department deployed a wave energy prototype dubbed Azura at a test site at Kaneohe Bay off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Developer Northwest Energy Innovations, with help from a $5 million federal grant, tested an earlier prototype off the coast of Oregon in 2014. The government said the pilot project in Hawaii will give federal researchers the chance to monitor a wave energy converter for potential commercial deployment . With more than half the U.S. population living within 50 miles of a coastline, the government said marine and hydrokinetic technologies could provide an untapped renewable energy resource. “With […]

Chinese group to build world’s first tidal energy plant in Swansea Bay

A Chinese construction company has been chosen to build the world’s first tidal lagoon project for generating clean electricity in Britain.  The state-owned China Harbour Engineering Company has won the deal to undertake marine works on the £1bn Swansea Bay Tidal Project, which will deliver power to the National Grid, potentially enough for 120,000 homes.

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China’s environment ministry blocks hydro project

9 Apr 2015   China, Hydro

China’s environment ministry has refused approval for a hydropower dam on an ecologically vulnerable river already damaged by construction, a rare setback for the country’s extensive dam-building program. While the 1,000-megawatt Xiaonanhai project appears scrapped, experts said China’s overall plan for dams was on course given pressure to cut smog from coal-fired power plants. Hydropower capacity is due to rise another 60 gigawatts (GW) in five years as new projects get approved. The Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a document sent to the Three Gorges Project Corporation and seen by Reuters that the firm could not plan or build the project on the Jinsha river, the upstream section of the Yangtze, in the southwest. “In the last 10 years, two investigations have been carried out into construction in precious and unique national protection zones for fish in the lower reaches of the Jinsha river, and […]

Generating Power From Tidal Lagoons

3 Nov 2014   Waves

Harvesting energy from the tides is hard to do, and the development of a new generation of sea-based power arrays lags far behind more widely used renewable technologies like wind and solar. But the company pushing a new project on the coast of Wales thinks its twist — a 21st-century update of traditional dam-based hydropower — will be much easier to bring to fruition. If it wins government permission to go forward, Tidal Lagoon Power Limited says the approach, known as tidal lagoon generation, could provide as much as 10 percent of Britain’s power from six of its projects within a decade. That is an optimistic assessment. Still, those hoping the seas will become a big contributor to the world’s future energy needs will be watching to see what happens in Swansea Bay, Wales. “If it’s put together and it’s a success, people will look for other […]

Ireland takes steps toward wave energy

27 Sep 2014   Ireland, Waves

Wave energy pioneer Pelamis said Friday it was put on the short list of companies slated for a role alongside Irish utility company ESB. The Irish government aims to install its first wave energy project, the five megawatt WestWave facilities, by 2018. It’s already secured support from the European Commission. Pelamis Wave Power said it’s been selected as one of the developers set to participate in the next stage of a competitive procurement process . Last year, the Pelamis P2 wave energy system was connected to the Scottish grid for an accumulated 7,500 hours, contributing 160 MW of electricity to the nation’s grid. The system works by converting wave energy into electricity using a snake-like device deployed offshore. Each unit in the system can generate as much as 100 kilowatts […]

EIA projections show hydro growth limited by economics not resources

11 Jul 2014   Hydro

 U.S. Energy Information Administration, EIA-860, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Note: Capacity values prior to 1989 are estimates. Existing capacity includes conventional hydroelectric and pumped storage. New stream-reach developments are stream segments without an existing dam. Expansions add power to existing dams. Some expansions are included in the Annual Energy Outlook 2014 projections. A recent study conducted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for the U.S. Department of Energy, the New Stream-reach Development Resource Assessment , finds that 61 gigawatts (GW) of hydroelectric power potential exists at waterways without existing dams or diversion facilities. This value excludes Alaska, Hawaii, and federally protected lands. ORNL’s hydropower resource estimates contrast with the 2 GW of additional hydropower capacity projected to be added through 2040 in EIA’s latest Annual Energy Outlook (AEO2014) Reference case. The difference in the […]

Wave energy project set for Oregon’s coast

21 Jun 2014   Waves

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says it took a major step forward with an effort to test utility-scale wave energy devices off the coast of Oregon. “Wave energy off the West Coast has incredible potential,” BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank said in a statement Thursday. Researchers at Oregon State University aim to design, build and operate a project that could generate much as 20 megawatts of electricity from waves. The energy could be sent to the mainland through a subsea cable from a site four nautical miles off the coast of Newport. Cruickshank said his agency would work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on project development. BOEM said it was now ready to move forward after determining there is no competitive interest in the area of the proposed research center. In early June, BOEM awarded a lease to Florida Atlantic University for marine hydrokinetic technology testing. Wave […]

More tidal energy set for Scottish coast

16 Jun 2014   United Kingdom, Waves

 A decision to invest more than $3 million on a tidal array planned for Scottish waters is a testament to its green energy strength, the energy minister said. Tidal technology company Nova Innovation and Belgian renewable energy company ELSA secured $3.1 million from European investors to build tidal arrays off the Scottish coast. “ELSA’s decision to invest in Scotland is a testament to the confidence felt by international investors to help develop the huge wave and tidal energy resources from the waters around the Scottish coast,” Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said in a statement Sunday. The tidal array, which will consist of five 100-kilowatt turbines, will be installed in three stages. Three of the turbines should be commissioned by the end of 2015. Scotland says it lays claim to about 25 percent of the wind and tidal energy potential and 10 percent of wave energy […]

Florida to host ‘paradigm-shifting’ ocean energy project

5 Jun 2014   Waves

The U.S. government announced plans to work with Florida Atlantic University to test a system to get energy from ocean currents, the first of its kind. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a lease to the university to test a turbine system driven by ocean currents. “This is the first time a lease has been issued to test ocean current energy equipment in federal waters,” acting BOEM Director Walter Cruickshank said in a statement Tuesday. The demonstration project envisions hydrokinetic turbines deployed about 10 nautical miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. BOEM said “multiple” test devices, anchored to the sea floor, could generate as much as 100 kilowatts of power from wave energy. The university’s president, John Kelly , said the project is “paradigm-shifting development” in the race for new renewable sources of energy. A small-scale research project was conducted in 2013. An […]

Why Wave Power Has Lagged Far Behind as Energy Source

2 May 2014   Waves

Researchers have long contended that power from ocean waves could make a major contribution as a renewable energy source. But a host of challenges, including the difficulty of designing a device to capture the energy of waves, have stymied efforts to generate electricity from the sea. It’s not difficult to imagine what wind energy looks like — by this point we have all seen the towering turbines dotting the landscape. The same goes for solar power and the panels that are spreading across rooftops worldwide. But there is another form of renewable energy, available in huge quantities, that doesn’t really call to mind anything at all: What does wave power technology look like? Wind and solar power have taken off in the past decade or two, as costs have come down rapidly and threats from climate change have made clear the need to transition away from fossil fuels. Meanwhile, numerous […]

U.S. probes waves as source of energy

30 Apr 2014   Waves

More than $10 million will be invested into a program that will test the ability to convert wave energy into a source of power, the U.S. Energy Department said. The Energy Department announced the test program for wave energy off the coast of Hawaii. “The Energy Department-supported demonstrations at the U.S. Navy’s wave energy test site off Hawaii’s island of Oahu will help develop reliable wave energy options and collect important performance and cost data for wave energy conversion devices,” it said in a Monday statement . Two prototype wave energy converters will be deployed in open waters at depths of 196 feet and 260 feet. The demonstration projects are aimed at examining wave energy technology that’s in the late stage of development or close to full-scale operations. The test program will run for one year. The project gives the federal government the ability […]

China’s New Wager: Pulling Energy From the Ocean

1 Apr 2014   China, Waves

A race is under way to unlock one of the world’s biggest untapped sources of clean energy—the ocean—with China emerging as an important testing ground. That could heighten competition with Western companies, especially if Chinese businesses begin using technologies developed with joint-venture partners to expand rapidly. The European Union so far has led efforts to harness the sea to make electricity, for which there are three principal techniques: underwater turbines that draw power from the ebb and flow of tides, surface-based floats that rely on wave motion and systems that exploit differences in water temperature. The world’s first commercial, grid-connected tidal-flow generator was installed in Northern Ireland in 2008. Germany’s AG , a big investor in wave and tidal power, predicts that tidal currents alone could someday power 250 million households world-wide. France’s SA also is developing the technology. But with 11,000 miles of coastline rich with energy […]

Two New Ideas in Wave and Tidal Power

31 Mar 2014   Waves

IEEE Spectrum has an article on some new ocean energy technologies – Two New Ideas in Wave and Tidal Power . The wave power idea is closer than the tidal energy one to rollout, with a planned open-water test for this summer. M3 Wave dispenses with all the problems that come with buoys or other above-and-below-the-surface designs by mooring a simple device to the ocean floor. The device, pictured above, involves two air chambers: as a wave passes over the top of the first chamber, the pressure inside increases, forcing air through a passageway to the second chamber. Inside the passageway is a turbine, so the passing air is actually what generates the electricity. As the wave continues on, it raises the pressure inside the second chamber, pushing the air back through the turbine—importantly, it is a bidirectional turbine—and back into the first chamber. Another wave, another cycle. Repeat.The […]

Peak Energy: New Tubes Using Hydraulic Pistons Could Harness Ocean Waves for Energy

29 Oct 2013   Waves

Inhabitat has a post on a new wave power design – New Tubes Using Hydraulic Pistons Could Harness Ocean Waves for Energy . The cylinders ride the peaks and troughs of waves, which spins concentric shafts working in pairs to push and pull hydraulic fluid (similar way to how a piston works). This double action then creates pressure which is stored in accumulators and released at a capped limit into a hydraulic motor. Etherington, who is an engineering graduate from Brunel University in London, got his inspiration for the device when he was kite surfing off the coast of Cumbria and he noticed that the waves rarely moved in a predictable fashion. Replicating the unpredictable conditions of the ocean was one of the main challenges when testing the device. Etherington had to use data from buoys moored in the Orkney Islands which were used to create suitable waves in […]