U.S. scientists concerned about carbon dioxide (CO2) leaks from sequestration attempts have been pursuing the option of natural chemical reactions within the earth to turn the carbon back into a solid, and they have identified an abundant supply of large rock formations around the world that could be used a vast sink for the heat-trapping gas.
Geothermal energy in Europe may have been used for centuries — it was popularized by the Romans and adopted by the Turks — but geothermal-generated electricity was first produced at Larderello, Italy, in 1904. Since then, its growth on the continent has shot up to 820 MW. But, according to the European Renewable Energy Council, the resource’s full potential has barely been harnessed.
Swiss power technology group ABB, which pioneered gas-insulated switchgear 50 years ago, in April announced it had commissioned switchgear rated to handle 1,100 kV. The development marks the biggest leap in capacity and efficiency of AC power transmission in more than two decades.
Gas hydrates, a form of natural gas that forms when methane from the decomposition of organic material comes into contact with water at low temperatures and high pressures, could play a role — even if a small one — in future fuel supplies, researchers attending a March meeting organized by the American Chemical Society suggested.
Post-consumer waste could be the newest, ubiquitous fuel source for distributed energy generation if a mobile waste-to-energy conversion system launched this January finds its way onto the parking lots of facilities that produce more than two tons of waste daily. According to its developer, Massachusetts-based IST Energy, the GEM system can process up to 3 tons of waste daily — which can include paper, plastic, food, wood, and agricultural materials — and produce up to 120 kWe and 240 kWth.
German researchers in February said they had developed the first-ever biogas plant to run purely on waste instead of edible raw materials. The team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS (Institut Keramische Technologien und Systeme) in Dresden said that the plant, which uses a fuel cell to convert the gas into electricity, exclusively uses agricultural waste such as corn stalks — and it generates 30% more biogas than conventional plants.
News items of interest to power industry professionals.
The pace at which next-generation nuclear power is developing in the U.S. accelerated this February as the U.S. arm of Toshiba inked an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) agreement with an advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) nuclear development company jointly owned by NRG Energy and Japan’s Toshiba Corp. The agreement seeks to ensure that the two ABWRs planned to expand the South Texas Project (STP) in Bay City, Texas, will be constructed on time, on budget, and to exacting standards.
According to a new study from Emerging Energy Research, more than $20 billion will be spent on carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects this year at 50 power generation projects totalling 16 GW around the world. The European Union (EU), with an investment of $11.6 billion, leads all efforts, because it is pressed to achieve a target to reduce carbon emissions by 20% of 1990 levels by 2020. In December, the governing body reached agreement on a climate and energy package, which includes a framework for CCS and a directive on the way EU members and Norway will regulate licenses to ensure reliable carbon storage. The U.S. takes second place, earmarking $6 billion, and Canada is third, at $2.7 billion.
"The Russian Nuclear Industry: Status and Prospects," a February report from a Canadian-based think tank, Centre for International Governance Innovation, examines a revival of Russia’s Soviet-era plans for a massive nuclear expansion within the current state of the country’s nuclear power industry. It concludes that although the industry has been greeted with renewed funding and enthusiasm, achieving its ambitious plans will require the federation to overcome considerable problems and limitations.