Archive: International

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Revived FutureGen Faces Renewed Funding Obstacles

A little more than a year after the Bush administration abruptly withdrew its support for the FutureGen project, the Department of Energy has again announced it will back the proposed Illinois gasified coal power plant and carbon capture initiative. Though the 275-MW project may be different in technical aspects — it will be initially designed for 60% carbon capture, not 90%, and gasify only Illinois Basin Coal (Figure 2) — it is still riddled with many of same funding problems. Making matters worse, it may have been revived too late: Since the DOE withdrew its support, several major carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects and alliances have sprouted in the U.S., and these could give FutureGen a run for its money.

How Much Coal Does the U.S. Really Have?

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a federal mapping agency, has of late been propounding the difference between "resources" and "reserves." It says that although the two terms are used interchangeably, the distinction is simple: Reserves are a subset of resources. Coal resources, as an example, include those in-place tonnage estimates determined by summing the volumes for identified and undiscovered deposits of coal, whereas coal reserves are those resources considered "economically producible" at the time of classification, even though extraction facilities are not in place and operative.

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Sweden Selects Site of First Permanent Spent Nuclear Fuel Repository

In early June, as U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu confirmed to a House Subcommittee that Yucca Mountain repository was, without doubt, "off the table" and that a blue ribbon panel would further advise the government on what it should do with its high-level nuclear waste, Sweden announced the site of what could be the world’s first permanent spent fuel repository.

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Ethiopia Completes Construction of Africa’s Tallest Dam

Ethiopia, the landlocked nation in East Africa from which key tributaries to the Nile River originate, completed construction of the continent’s highest dam, the 188-meter Tekezé Arch Dam (Figure 3) in February.

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Qatar Starts Construction on Middle East’s Largest Power and Water Plant

The gas-rich Persian Gulf state of Qatar in May commenced construction of the region’s largest power and water plant, a massive project comprising eight gas turbine generators, eight heat-recovery steam generators, four steam turbine generators, and 10 desalination units.

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"Smart Turbine Blades" to Improve Wind Power

Engineers at Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories have developed a technique that uses sensors and computational software to constantly monitor forces exerted on wind turbine blades. Their achievement could one day improve the efficiency of wind turbines by providing the blades’ "smart" structure with necessary data to adjust to rapidly changing wind conditions.

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Energy Storage Efforts Making Progress

The intensifying spotlight on renewable energy seems to be casting a brighter light on the energy storage problem, with lawmakers, researchers, and investors scrambling to seek out the most feasible solution to bridge the intermittent nature of renewable power sources.

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PG&E Makes a Deal for Space-Based Power

Just as reports emerged earlier this year that NASA had abandoned, for lack of financial resources, its research into space-based solar power that would be harnessed via orbiting solar arrays beaming microwaves to earthly receivers, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) wrote the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) requesting its approval of a power purchase agreement from a similar technology.

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Mitsubishi Wraps Up Development of J-Class Mega Turbine

This March, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) quietly completed development of the "J-series" gas turbine — a machine that has been extolled in the turbo-machinery world for its ability to produce one of the world’s largest power generation capacities and highest thermal efficiencies.