Archive: Renewables

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The Big Picture: Big Biomass

The world’s biomass power facilities, not counting those in the pulp and paper industry, average just 18 MWe to 20 MWe. In the U.S., passage of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 ignited development of many existing biomass plants. Greenhouse gas rules and renewable policies around the world have kindled a new generation of much larger biomass facilities. New announcements routinely are for plants 50 MW or larger, presumably to leverage economies of scale.

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Top Plant: Kimberlina Solar Thermal Energy Plant, Bakersfield, California

The 5-MW Kimberlina Solar Thermal Energy Station is the first to use compact linear Fresnel reflector technology developed to generate continuous superheated steam, a key element for higher-efficiency power generation and integration with new and existing plants. The facility’s innovative technology helps deliver power even during periods of transient cloud cover.

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Nordic Nations Provide Clean Energy Leadership

In the past few years, nuclear concerns, rising oil prices, and a growing understanding of our environmental impact has given energy issues a higher profile worldwide. In this report on the Continental Nordic countries, we look at the efforts being made in much of the Nordic region to secure a sustainable energy supply for the future and at the extent to which the innovative solutions of these countries can be exported around the globe.

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AMSC Former Employee Convicted in Sinovel Intellectual Property Case

An intellectual property battle between Massachusetts-based American Superconductor Corp. (AMSC) and China’s giant wind turbine maker Sinovel in late September culminated with an Austrian court conviction of a former AMSC employee, who was arrested in Austria and who pled guilty to corporate espionage charges. The court charged Dejan Karabasevic, a 38-year-old Serbian engineer, with stealing AMSC’s software, modifying it, and secretly selling it to Sinovel.

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Applying Acoustic Pulse Reflectometry in a Geothermal Plant

Acoustic pulse reflectometry (APR) is a tube inspection method that has been gradually gaining acceptance as a tool for heat exchanger inspection. Different types of heat exchangers operating in different operating environments have different failure mechanisms, making some of them more suited than others for inspection by APR. Finned tube heat exchangers are a typical example of heat exchangers particularly conducive to APR inspection.

Too Much of a Good Thing Creates Legal Havoc

As last winter’s abundant snowfall in the Pacific Northwest melted, rivers swelled and hydroelectric operators enjoyed substantial increases in generation. That bountiful clean and cheap power generation was a blessing, but it also triggered a host of legal issues.

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THE BIG PICTURE: A Solar Switch

The plummeting cost of photovoltaic (PV) panels—resulting from lower costs for high-grade silicon and advancements in thin-film technology, solar storage, and electronic control technologies—has a slew of firms rethinking concentrating solar power (CSP) projects. Although there is a CSP project pipeline (including both CSP and concentrating PV) of more than 9 GW in the U.S., […]

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Hydro Reservoir GHG Emissions Lower Than Estimated

A new analysis of 85 hydroelectric reservoirs distributed around the world suggests that these systems emit about 48 million metric tons of carbon annually. That figure is much lower than earlier estimates of 64 million metric tons that were based on studies relying on more limited data and which cautioned that reservoirs of all types […]

Epic Fail

Over the past 18 months, four solar energy equipment companies have closed their doors. Each one blamed poor market conditions for its economic woes, even though each had fundamental weaknesses that went unaddressed. It now appears that the Department of Energy (DOE) did insufficient due diligence before backstopping one of those four companies, Solyndra, with a $535 million loan guarantee.

Murkowski: Renewables Future Not "All Sunshine and Roses"

There’s lots of reason for optimism about clean technologies, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told a packed crowd on Tuesday afternoon at the RETECH 2011 Keynote Session. New ideas are emerging, costs are coming down and deployment is increasing, she noted—all welcome developments for America’s energy supply and the global environment. The rapid growth of the renewables is partially due to federal policies, but much of the progress has been a "direct result of your creativity and determination."