Catching up from our summer break. Here are the greentech stories that were making the news in the first week of August…
BMW unveiled it’s new electric vehicle the i3. The 170 horse power electric motor accelerates the car from 0-100 kmh in 7.2 seconds.
In a move to overcome customer fears about limited range BMW announced an option to borrow a petrol powered SUV such as the X5 for longer journeys more
BP reversed it’s decision to sell 16 wind farms due to a lack of demand from the market more
The first wind turbines were installed at the German offshore wind farm Borkum West 2
When completed the wind farm will generate 400MW of power through 80 wind turbines.
China and Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding for construction of the 188MW Isimba Falls hydropower plant. The $570m project is expected to be completed in 2018.
Supporters of fossil fuels often mention predictability of supply in their argument against renewable energy sources. Put simply solar power is only effective when the sun is shining and likewise wind power only generates electricity on a windy day. While this criticism is not valid for all forms of renewable power (hydro and geothermal are some of the most consistently reliable energy sources) it is true that solar and wind power are very susceptible to peaks and troughs in supply. The traditional response has been to vary the feed into the grid from more reliable power sources such as coal, gas or nuclear to balance energy production with demand.
However while it is the case that sometimes there is insufficient power generated othertimes too much power can be generated. Domestic energy requirements tend to be lower during the day, ironically when the sun is shining and solar power production is most effective. When the wind blows strongly massive wind turbines can generate more power than is required by the electricity grid. Recently there have been some interesting developments that promise to improve the reliability of supply from renewable sources by storing excess power so that it can be released later to better match demand.
In Germany domestic solar customers are able to benefit from a hybrid solar invertor and energy management system. At the heart of the systmem are advanced Li-ion batteries that enable electricity to be consumed in the evening when demand is highest.
A typical household is estimated to be able to produce 80% of it’s own power using this system. Similar improvements in battery life are also improving the reliability of electric cars giving greater range to emission free runabouts.
Apple have filed a patent application for a wind turbine that generates heat instead of electricity.
The heat is used to generate steam to turn turbines which produce electricity. The benefit of this design is that heat is easier to store for long periods than electricity.
But perhaps the most original solution has been put forward by the Belgium government who plan to build a doughnut shaped island 5km offshore to store excess energy from wind farms. When additional power is needed valves would be opened allowing the water to flow back into the island turning hydroelectric turbines in the process.
We think that these ideas are hugely exciting and variations that offer even more innovative solutions to store energy will further improve the reliability of renewable power sources in future years
Electric car maker Telsa has replaced Oracle in the Nasdaq 100 index
Tesla shares have tripled this year with sales of the new Model S sedan helping the company achieve profitability more
A heatwave in Europe saw Germany break it’s previous record for solar power production. Output reached 23.9 GW on breaking the previous record set in June more
The city of San Diego is considering a 500 MW hydroelectric power plant to offset decomissioned nuclear capacity more
Our round-up of the week’s most exciting greentech news
Smartphone users in New York will be able to recharge their phones at solar powered charging stations thanks to AT&T and Goal Zero.
The project was launched following hurricane Sandy when many residents had difficulty keeping their phones charged. Each station will have multiple connectors to support a range of devices and a battery to enable charging after dark.
Chinese wind power provider Donghai Wind Power Co announced plans to commence the second phase of its Donghai Bridge wind farm near Shanghai at the end of the year. The $310m facility will produce 100MW using 28 turbines.
The Indonesian government allocated $302m to explore geothermal energy resources. Indonesia is belived to have potential geothermal generating capacity of 29,038 MW.
A 106 year old hydroelectric power station that has been closed since June 2012 is expected to partially reopened by the end of 2013.
The six turbines at Thomson Hydro Station flooded when over 10 inches of rain fell in the region.
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Here is this week’s Greentech news
Two Chinese companies Sinohydro Corporation Ltd and Chinese National Electric Engineering Co (CNEEC) commenced work on the 700 MW Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant in Nigeria. The power plant was first conceived in 1982 but was unable to commence due to a lack of funds.
Swedish architecture firm Belatchew Arkitekter have put forward an intreging proposal using piezoelectric generation.
If the project goes ahead the Söder Torn tower in Stockholm will increase by 16 stories including 14 stories dedicated to piezoelectric generation. The tower would be covered with millions of straws, each with a polymer coating and a core made of piezoelectric material. As they move in the wind the stresses exerted on each straw would create a current that is channelled into the generator room inside the building.
Deep Earth Energy Production Corp announced plans for Canada’s first geothermal power plant. The 5 MW plant is expected to cost $34m with construction starting in 2014.
The EU imposed tariffs as high as 67.9 percent on solar panels from China as the trade war between them intensified. The EU claims that Chinese producers have been “dumping” imports and European producers have suffered “material injury” as a result.
This weeks’ round up of greentech news from around the world…
Scientists from the Australian research institute the CSRIO have printed organic solar cells the size of an A3 sheet of paper.
Using a similar method to screen printing an image onto a T shirt the scientists were able to use semiconducting ink to print cells straight onto plastic or steel. Dr Jones has ambitious plans for future uses of the paper thin cells “Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line skyscrapers”
A 40GW hydropower project moved closer to reality as the World Bank offered to finance the deal. The Grand Inga development in the Democratic Republic of Congo would produce the equivalent power to 20 large nuclear power stations. Unlike the Three Gorges hyropower facility in China the Grand Inga project would have a minimal environmental consequences and would not require tens of thousands of people to be relocated.
The UK Green Investment Bank has committed a total of £635m to 11 renewable energy projects. The bank was set up by the government to help stimulate the renewable energy projects needed to meet the UK’s target of sourcing 15% of energy production from renewable sources by 2020. The total includes includes already-announced loans to companies such as Shanks Group Plc and Drax Group Plc.
Here is this weeks greentech news…
Spanish technology leader in wind energy Gamesa sold a 70MW project in Mexico to Iberdrola. The installation will consist of 35 Gamesa 2.0 MW wind turbines when it is completed in 2014.
Irish renewable energy group Gaelectric opened a 14MW at Carn Hill in Newtownabbey. The installation consists of six wind turbines and will generate enough electricity to power 8,000 homes a year.
The World Bank has backed transformational large Hydro projects in a number of developing countries including Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Nepal. The World Bank had previously shunned large Hydro projects due to the environmental consequences associated with the dams. While big hydro projects can produce lots of cheap, clean electricity, flooding caused by the dams often results in the displacement of the villages that they are supposed to be helping.
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Latest figures on geothermal energy show that world capacity will double by 2030 as developing countries including Indonesia take advantage of their natural resources. In 2012 the USA was the largest geothermal market with output of 3GW. Indonesia alone is expected to add nearly 6GW in the next twenty years.
Tunisian wind energy startup Saphon Energy’s is understood to be in talks with a number of major industrial players as it looks to move its bladeless wind towers to a commercial scale.
The sail inspired towers wobble in the wind, with pistons converting kinetic energy to electricity. Initial estimates suggest that bladeless wind devices could be more than twice as efficient as three-blade turbines.
Investors in the UK pledged £100K ($152K) in just four days to support a community hydroelectric plant. The small turbine will generate enough electricity to power 50 homes.
IBM announced plans to develop a High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system that that could harness the energy of 2,000 suns. The system could provide fresh water and air conditioning in remote locations and would be completely renewable.
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have designed a low-cost, long-life battery that could enable solar and wind energy to become major suppliers to the electrical grid. In adequate storage is currently a major barrier to the viability of renewable energy.
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Your weekly round up of greentech news…
Fridlington Farms in the UK have installed a 190kWp ground-mounted solar system consisting of 790 solar panels. Owners say that the array will substantialy cut the farm’s carbon footprint and lower costs.
Rapid expansion in the solar energy sector has led to dramatic falls in the price of panels.
BP the company that once promoted it’s self as “Beyond Petrolium” has announced the sale of it’s remaining US wind farms. The embattled energy company said that it would be turning it’s back on the renewables sector in order to focus on oil and gas.
The 84MW New Bong Escape Hydroelectric power plant in Pakistan commenced operation. The project is the countrie’s first hydroelectric Independent Power Project.
Here is this weeks round up of greentech news
Thai authorities are evaluating the use of geothermal power to generate electricity. Geothermal has a relatively low cost of energy production and compares well to coal and gas.
The worlds biggest producer of raw materials for solar panels GCL-Poly energy announced plans to build solar power plans in an attempt to return to profitability.
MeyGen and Marine Current Turbines each received £10m from the UK government to advance the commercialisation of their tidal energy devices.
The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation approved $288 to fund two wind power projects in Pakistan.