POWER [December, 1 2010]

Cover Stories

Map of Renewable Power Generation in the United States

For a full-size map, contact Platts. Courtesy: Platts Data source: POWERmap All rights reserved. No reproduction allowed.

Top Plant: Blue Mountain Faulkner 1 Geothermal Power Plant, Humboldt County, Nevada

Completed in 2009 and partially funded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the 50-MW Blue Mountain Faulkner 1 Geothermal Power Plant is harnessing large amounts of renewable energy by tapping into an underground geothermal reservoir in northern Nevada. This subterranean source of heat allows the binary plant to generate pollution-free baseload electricity.

Top Plant: Colmac Energy Inc.’s Biomass- Fueled Power Plant, Mecca, California

The 47-MW Colmac Energy facility is the largest biomass-fueled power plant in California. Colmac operates with a capacity factor consistently in the 92% to 95% range and at a net plant heat rate comparable to waste coal facilities. Colmac Energy has demonstrated that biomass plants using urban wood wastes as fuel can generate significant environmental benefits, including reduced air pollutants from open-air burning and lowered demand for landfill space.

Top Plant: DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County, Florida

The forecast is looking sunny for the 25-MW DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which has more than 90,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels and is the largest solar PV plant in the U.S. Completed in October 2009, it is a sustainable energy solution with minimal maintenance costs. The site uses no fuel, consumes no cooling water, has no air emissions, and creates no waste products.

Top Plant: Kajang Waste-to-Energy Plant, Semenyih, Malaysia

At Malaysia’s first waste-to-energy plant, municipal solid waste (MSW) is converted into refuse-derived fuel for use in an integrated steam power plant. This facility was designed to achieve the twin objectives of environmentally friendly MSW disposal and generating renewable power.

Top Plant: Kaukaan Voima Oy Biomass-Fired Power Plant, Lappeenranta, Finland

Located in the heavily forested country of Finland, the Kaukaan Voima biomass-fueled power plant produces process steam and electricity for UPM’s Kaukas pulp and paper mill as well as electricity and district heating for Lappeenrannan Energia, a city-owned power company. Launched in 2009, the plant can provide 125 MW of electricity, 110 MWth of district heat, and 150 MWth of process steam thanks to one of the world’s largest wood-fired fluidized bed boilers.

Top Plant: Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, Isle of Thanet, UK

In September, the 300-MW Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, the world’s largest offshore wind energy facility, began operation off the southeastern coast of England. The wind farm has 100 3-MW turbines manufactured by Vestas. The facility will generate electricity equivalent to the annual consumption of more than 200,000 British households.

Features

A Winning Combination: Government and Utilities Partner on Renewable Energy Projects

Recent mandates require government facilities to develop energy policies that enable energy conservation, increase the use of renewable energy, and improve energy security. Utilities with government facilities in their service territory may have opportunities to develop solar and other renewable energy projects that help them meet state renewable portfolio standards while increasing a government facility’s usage of renewable energy. The key to such a win-win proposition is careful structuring of the project agreement to leverage each party’s assets.

Could CAES Answer Wind Reliability Concerns?

As wind and solar energy capacity in the U.S. continues to grow, compressed air energy storage (CAES) and other bulk energy storage technologies will increasingly be used to help balance electrical supply and demand.

Investigating the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydro Power Plant Disaster

The destruction of the turbines and auxiliary equipment at Russia’s Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydro Power Plant in August 2009 claimed the lives of 75 workers and wrecked an indispensable source of electricity that will take years to fully restore. The disaster, as this report explains, was predictable and preventable.

New Design Tool Improves Manufacture of Composite Wind Turbine Blades

Composite materials are ideal for producing wind turbine blades because of their strength, light weight, and ability to be tailored to provide the precise mechanical properties needed for any blade design. Now, best practices originally developed for rotorcraft blade manufacturing can be applied to designing and manufacturing wind turbine blades that are constructed from composites.

The Rush to Renewables

In 2010 investment in wind power continued to accelerate, particularly in California and Texas. California also entered several solar projects in the race for financing. The finish line that renewable power developers and their partners are racing to meet is a December 31 deadline to qualify for federal cash grants.

Departments

Commentary

While Congress Bickers, Solar Industry Holds Its Breath

Energy is the most regulated sector of the American economy, making public-private partnerships essential to scaling the solar industry. Such partnerships have helped other energy sectors to reach scale over the past hundred years.

New Products

Bolt Load and Elongation Measuring Device

Boltight has developed a fast and accurate device for measuring bolt load and bolt elongation that uses the latest ultrasonic technology. Called the Boltight Echometer, the device is used for…

Containment Bags for Safe Transformer Transport

New Pig Corp. recently introduced PIG Transformer Containment Bags, carriers designed exclusively for the safe transport of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mineral oils. The bags feature high-capacity straps to ensure…

Extended Control Valve Range

Spirax Sarco released a new control valve range, SPIRA-TROL, in 6- and 8-inch sizes and with more control options. The company says the valves are easy to maintain and do…

Mixers for IBC and Tote Applications

Neptune Mixer Co., a division of Neptune Chemical Pump Co., announced that its Series HGL mixers are now available in both electric and air-driven models. The Series HGL mixers are…

Shaft-Grounding Ring for Wind Turbines

Electro Static Technology’s AEGIS WTG wind turbine grounding ring seeks to prevent bearing damage that could otherwise cause generator failure by safely channeling harmful shaft currents away from bearings to…

Total Biogas Package

German company MWM introduced the new MWM container, which it says is a highly efficient and economic distributed generation system designed for natural gas and biogas applications. The package, which…

Updated Tube Expansion System

An updated HydroSwage Tube Expansion System featuring new ease-of-use and data collection features is being offered by Haskel International. The compact Mark V system provides high accuracy, speed, and repeatability…

Legal & Regulatory

Regulatory Options for Feed-in Tariffs

Feed-in tariffs (FITs) have been used by European countries to foster the growth of renewable generation resources, notably solar. These tariffs generally require electric distribution companies to purchase power produced by a specified class of generators at above-market rates. The object of the tariffs is to encourage development of the favored generation resources by ensuring the existence of a profitable market for their power production.

Focus on O&M

Expanding the Use of Predictive Maintenance as a Business Strategy

The Linde Group is a world-leading gases and engineering company operating in more than 100 countries. It’s no surprise that the company uses a variety of advanced monitoring techniques and equipment to keep its plants operating reliably. In the U.S. and UK particularly, Linde plants have used online machine condition monitoring for a number of years. At its Shanghai headquarters, Linde has formed a large and impressive remote operations center where it monitors and tracks the process operations of all its major gas plants in China 24 hours a day.

Finding Fault: Improving Wind Farm Availability

Survey wind turbine manufacturers about how to calculate wind farm availability and you will get countless different definitions and exceptions to the rule.

Keeping Condensers Clean

The quality of the cooling water intake and the amount of debris in that water affects the operation and performance of the condenser and therefore the thermal performance of the typical steam plant.

Global Monitor

GE Launches 9.5-MW Engine for Distributed Generation

A 9.5-MW gas engine unveiled by GE this October for decentralized, independent power producers in remote, hot, or high-altitude regions features a 48.7% electrical efficiency and promises to reduce lifecycle costs by lowering fuel consumption.

How the U.S. Grid’s Unpredictability Increases Its Security

Experts have decried congressional and academic reliance on a mathematical model for understanding complex systems that suggests an attack on a small part of the U.S. power grid could disrupt the entire power system network.

Massive Energy Storage Facility Planned for Mexico-U.S. Border

Dubai-based energy firm Rubenius in October proposed to build a $4 billion energy storage facility based on sodium sulfur (NaS) technology on a 345-acre site in the Mexican state of Baja California, close to the U.S. border. If it comes to fruition, the facility—dubbed a “mega region energy warehouse” by Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon—will feature 1,000 MW of battery storage and offer “storage space” to energy companies and utilities in both Mexico and the U.S.


MIT Researchers Invent Self-Renewing PV Technology

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have a created a set of self-assembling molecules that can turn sunlight into power, and which can repeatedly be broken down and reassembled by adding or removing solution. The scientific breakthrough—inspired by a natural process used by plants to renew light-capturing molecules that have been degraded by the sun—could mean that researchers are closer to creating a self-healing photovoltaic (PV) technology that can keep repairing itself to avoid loss in performance.

POWER Digest (December 2010)

Iberdrola Renovables Starts Up National Wind Turbine Control Center. Iberdrola Renovables, a company that owns 41 operating wind farms (3,900 MW in nameplate capacity) in the U.S., on Sept. 26…

Spain Makes Headway in CCS Efforts

A 14-MW pilot plant built by energy firm ELCOGAS at its 335-MW integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) facility at Puertollano in Spain in September captured its first metric ton of carbon dioxide. Now the company plans to begin tests to procure more technical and economic information about carbon capture and storage (CCS), including how efficient it is to co-produce hydrogen and power with carbon capture processes.

Turkey Opens Record-Breaking Combustion Gas Engine Plant

Turkey, a country that has seen rapid economic growth since the 1980s, largely spurred by a shift in governmental strategy to open up markets and increase private participation, has been actively overhauling its power infrastructure to meet soaring electricity consumption. According to grid operator Turkish Electricity Transmission Co., national consumption increased to 17 billion kWh this September—an 11% increase over the 15.3 billion kWh consumed in September 2009.

UK Cancels Tidal Barrage Plans, Approves Key Nuclear Sites

The UK government in late October shelved plans to build the Severn barrage—a project that would have involved building a 10-mile dam across the mouth of the Severn River—after a two-year-long feasibility study failed to convince ministers to use public funds to build it. The Department of Energy and Climate Change instead gave its long-awaited approval to eight sites for new nuclear reactors, saying that private companies could begin building the country’s new fleet of reactors, provided no public subsidy is involved.

Wind Energy Soars Around the World

Denmark put into operation its 12th offshore wind farm this October. The €440 million Rødsand 2 wind farm, a 90-turbine installation with a nameplate capacity of 207 MW, was erected for owner E.ON by Siemens Energy—both German firms—over a mere 122 days. The wind farm joins Rødsand I, a 72-turbine installation that began operating nearby in the Baltic Sea in 2003.

Speaking of Power

Three Questions About Renewable Energy

Renewable energy advocates hailed recent poll results as unquestionably demonstrating the public’s support of renewable energy resources. However, answers to follow-up questions showed that the public’s willingness to pay for increased renewable energy is lukewarm at best.

GBR Reports