Archive: Renewables

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Firstenergy to Convert Coal-Fired Burger Plant to Biomass

Confronted with a district court ultimatum that would have forced it to install expensive pollution controls or close two coal-fired units at its R.E. Burger Plant in Shadyside, Ohio, Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. announced in April that it would convert them to biomass. When the $200 million retrofit is complete, as is expected by 2013, the Burger Plant will likely be one of the largest biomass facilities in the U.S.

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Interest in Solar Tower Technology Rising

Though solar thermal tower technology has been around since the 1970s, to date, only one plant in the world commercially generates electricity: Abengoa Solar’s 11-MW PS10 tower just outside Seville, in Spain’s Andalucía desert has been grid-connected since early 2007. Because the technology relies on heat from solar energy that is reflected by mirror arrays (heliostats) onto a tower-mounted receiver, installations tend to be site-specific, expensive, and high-maintenance.

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Tidal Barrages Could Power 5% of UK

Barrages across the Solway Firth, Morecambe Bay, and the Mersey and Dee estuaries in the northwest UK could provide more than 5% of the nation’s electricity and meet half the region’s electricity, a study by engineers at the University of Liverpool has found.

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Powering the People: India’s Capacity Expansion Plans

India has become a global business power even though hundreds of millions of its citizens still live in poverty. To sustain economic growth and lift its people out of poverty, India needs more — and more reliable — power. Details of government plans for achieving those goals demonstrate that pragmatism may be in shorter supply than ambition and political will.

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Fast-Tracking a Control System Retrofit

Upgrading a 1970s-era generator control system to new millennium technology in 12 days during a three-week shutdown would require careful planning and teamwork under any circumstances. The quick replacement of the governor and control system at the PT Inco smelter’s hydroelectric generation system is even more impressive because the facility is located in the middle of an Indonesian jungle.

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New Biogas Plant Runs Purely on Nonedible Materials

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.

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Fire Safety in Modern Hydroelectric Stations

It may seem counterintuitive, but fire can be a serious danger in hydropower plants. In some respects, the danger is even greater than in thermal power stations. Most U.S. hydro plants are 30 to 70 years old but can deliver another 20 or 30 years of service with upgrades — including state-of-the-art fire protection systems. The design options outlined here also apply in large part to other generating stations.

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Hydrokinetic Plant Piggybacks on Existing Hydro Plant

Hydrokinetic energy — which generates power by using underwater turbines that harness moving water — is on the rise in the U.S. In January, the first U.S.-licensed, commercial, grid-connected hydrokinetic project installed the first of two 100-kW nameplate-rated turbines downriver from an existing run-of-river hydroelectric plant on the Mississippi River.

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Compact, Portable System Converts Trash to Energy

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.

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Turbines Spinning at Antarctica’s First "Zero-Emissions" Station

About 110 years after the Belgica expedition — a polar voyage organized by the Geographical Royal Society to establish the world’s first Antarctic scientific research program — a new, unique research station sponsored by the Belgian Federal Government has been commissioned. Inaugurated on Feb. 15 after two years of construction, the Princess Elizabeth Station (Figure 4) is the only polar base to run entirely on renewable energies.