On Monday, as First Wind announced its 69-MW Kawailoa Wind Project had gone into commercial operations on Oahu, other news underscored the difficulty the island state faces in trying to substitute renewables for expensive, imported fossil fuels.
Droughts, unreliable gas imports, and protests against proposed projects have hampered the Chilean power sector and its largest economic driver, the copper-mining industry. Recent policies designed to foster more reliable supplies are a move in the right direction, but remaining obstacles are formidable.
Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), which oxidize a fuel to produce electricity, have received much attention of late for the technology’s myriad benefits, including high efficiency, long-term stability, fuel flexibility, and low carbon emissions—all at a relatively low cost.
Panelists at ELECTRIC POWER discussed how U.S. utilities choose renewable power generation technologies based on their geographic locations, state requirements, economics, and other criteria—including reliability and federal regulations.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the responsibility for ensuring just and reasonable rates and preventing undue discrimination by public utility transmission providers. Last year FERC defined a new framework for public utilities and regional transmission organizations planning new transmission networks. The framework is provided in Order No. 1000—Transmission Planning and Allocation by Transmission Owning and Operating Public Utilities. The Final Rule was issued on July 21, 2011, and reaffirmed by Order No. 1000-A on May 17, 2012.
For the past 15 years, Vietnam has enjoyed enviable gross domestic product increases, averaging 7% annually. That kind of economic growth increases power demand, but financing new capacity remains a challenge. Reaching its ambitious capacity growth goals will require Vietnam to expand its financing and vendor base, attract foreign investment, and ensure future fuel supplies in a region thick with competition for those resources.
Of the $35.9 billion in loan guarantees awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) since 2009, roughly $26.5 billion have financed nuclear and renewable power projects across the nation through the Section 1703 and 1705 loan guarantee programs.
The technologies used to generate and distribute electricity will be radically transformed during the coming decade. Amid that change, the power industry must continue to meet customer reliability, safety, and cost-of-service expectations. Achieving the right balance among these often-conflicting goals is the primary focus of every utility. The Electric Power Research Institute is helping utilities achieve that balance with R&D programs for many new and emerging technologies.
Geothermal power and conventional fossil fuel–powered technologies have similar power production cycles, and both generation types can be dispatched. Geothermal power’s primary advantage is its renewable fuel. Its primary disadvantage is that its fuel requires large investments over many years to characterize uncertain sources. Enhanced recovery techniques that use fracking may be the future of this renewable resource.