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.
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.
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.
News items of interest to power generation 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.