An Australian sewage plant this April began using treated wastewater falling down a 60-meter (m) shaft to produce its own power.
At the opening ELECTRIC POWER 2010 plenary session, both the keynote speaker’s address and discussion among the Power Industry Executive Roundtable participants pointed to the renewed appeal of natural gas and proposed cap-and-trade legislation as being potential game-changers for the U.S. power industry.
One indication that the world’s offshore wind sector is poised to soar is the escalating competition between turbine makers. This April, General Electric (GE)—the world’s second-largest manufacturer of wind turbines—announced it would introduce a 4-MW gearless wind turbine (a design requiring no gearbox between turbine and generator) in 2012. The move directly challenges market leader Siemens Energy, of Germany, and its head-to-head competitor, Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems.
Growing water demand and reduced runoff due to drought has depleted waters feeding many hydroelectric power plants around the world—sometimes causing severe power shortages, such as in Brazil and New Zealand. The 2,080-MW Hoover Dam (Figure 4), a facility that generates power for more than a million people in Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California, is not immune to this phenomenon. According to a recent study by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Colorado River system, which includes Lake Powell and Lake Mead (both manmade reservoirs), is suffering a net deficit of nearly one million acre-feet of water per year.
After more than a decade of debate, in April, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved Cape Wind, a proposed 130-turbine offshore wind farm for Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts. It would be the first wind facility in U.S. waters. Despite remaining hurdles, the approval marks a shift in political winds for the nation’s fledgling industry, and it could spur further development of projects proposed for relatively shallow waters along the East Coast and in the Great Lakes.
Soldiers could one day carry 600-W power plants on their backs, or set up arrays of up to 20 kW in streams deeper than 4 feet, if a prototype being developed by California-based Bourne Energy comes to fruition.
Mexico has already developed substantial large hydro and geothermal resources. However, without policy changes and government-sponsored financial incentives, unconventional renewable sources are taking the equivalent of baby steps.
Shrinking water supplies will unquestionably constrain the development of future power plants. A hybrid system consisting of concentrated solar thermal power and desalination to produce water for a plant, integrated with a combined cycle or conventional steam plant, may be the simple solution.
In late January, a 1.5-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant began providing power to Salt River Project customers in Greater Phoenix, Ariz. Though small, the plant, developed by Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy Systems (SES), is seen as a prelude to 1,500-MW projects that are due to break ground in California and Texas later this year.
Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (OPT) announced on Feb. 1 that it had successfully deployed one of its PowerBuoy wave energy devices about a mile offshore from a U.S. Marine Corps Base on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The device generates up to 40 kW of power from the rise and fall of waves, and since its deployment in December 2009, it has been generating power within specifications.