Archive: Renewables

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The Feed-in Tariff Factor

Most countries are trying to increase the percentage of their electricity supply that comes from renewable sources. But because capital costs for renewable generation still, in most cases, are higher per kilowatt-hour than for fossil-fueled power, governments are looking at all options for encouraging the development of greater renewable capacity. Feed-in tariffs (FITs) are one policy tool that has been used, most notably in Europe. Now North America is testing FITs as well.

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UK Installs Hub to Test Wave Energy Projects

A £42 million marine power infrastructure project that will function as an “electrical socket” in waters 50 meters (m) deep and nearly 16 kilometers (km) off the coast of Cornwall in South West England set sail toward its proposed location this July.

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U.S. Wind Speeds Bluster on Climate Phenomena

Renewable energy information services provider 3TIER in July confirmed with its publication of wind performance maps what U.S. wind developers with poor generation numbers had been suggesting earlier this year: A long-lasting El Niño event paired with a North Atlantic Oscillation event caused wind speeds to slump abnormally from the fall of 2009 through spring 2010.

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Feed-in-Tariffs Around the World

Feed-in-tariffs (FITs)—above-retail rates paid for renewable power that producers "feed" into the grid—are gaining momentum all over the world as a means of driving project growth. Here are some of those established and proposed FITs.

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Bulk Storage Could Optimize Renewable Energy

A defining challenge for the U.S. electricity industry is to economically integrate renewable energy facilities into grid operations without sacrificing reliability. Bulk energy storage options are commercially proven technologies that enable that integration most expediently. Existing and emerging national and state policy frameworks are supporting their application in projects under development throughout the country.

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Solar Capacity Heats Up Worldwide

Spain in July inaugurated another major concentrated solar power (CSP) power station. The 50-MW La Florida parabolic solar trough plant in Alvarado Badajoz (in the west of the country), increases Spain’s solar nameplate capacity to 432 MW—beating out the U.S., which produces 422 MW from solar installations.

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Wave Energy Device to Tap Marine Energy in Gulf of Mexico

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year awarded its first Section 10 permit ever to a commercial wave-powered demonstration facility planned for installation in the Gulf of Mexico. The novel offshore platform, dubbed the SEADOG, will use a buoy and piston mechanism combined with a water wheel to generate electricity and desalinate water.

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Local Warming: Helsingin Energia Uses CHP to Heat a City

Power plant operators, especially those located in countries with enforceable carbon emissions standards, are concerned about their CO2 emissions. But for Helsingin Energia—which provides power, heating, and cooling for Helsinki, Finland’s 300,000 residents—the main concern is local warming, not global warming. In Helsinki, temperatures on midsummer afternoons only reach an average 21C, and for half the year daytime temperatures are below 10C.

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Drax Offers Model for Cofiring Biomass

When it is completed, later this summer, the UK’s Drax Power Station biomass facility will become the largest dedicated cofiring project of its kind in the world. As U.S. coal-fired generators come under increasing pressure to cut emissions and take advantage of incentives to promote power generation from renewables, Drax offers an example of what is possible.

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Abengoa Solar Begins Operation of 50-MW Parabolic Trough Plant

Abengoa Solar in early May began commercial operation of Solnova 1, the company’s first 50-MW parabolic trough plant. Covering 980,000 square feet with mirrors requiring an area totaling 280 acres (Figure 2), it is one of five planned concentrating solar power (CSP) plants to be built at the Solúcar Platform in Spain. All will use a technology developed by Abengoa with experience gained from a trough pilot built in 2007. Solnova 1 will also be equipped to burn natural gas if sunlight is weak.