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.
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 response to Ontario’s provincial regulatory mandates to phase out the use of coal by the end of 2014, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is exploring its capability to employ biomass feedstocks to displace coal in some units within the OPG thermal fleet. The primary fuels employed during the respective trials at its Nanticoke and Atikokan Generating Stations have been agricultural by-products and commercial grade wood pellets. The Canadian utility has learned valuable lessons about fuel supply and logistics, and the technical challenges of safely handling and firing high levels of biomass.
In mid-February, the Geological Society of London raised the hopes of those promoting geothermal energy when results of exploratory drilling in Weardale, County Durham, revealed record levels of permeability in granite. Although the results are promising for the development of geothermal energy, they may have less welcome implications for the safe disposal of radioactive waste in deep repositories.
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.
Greensburg was destroyed by an EF5 tornado on May 4, 2007. Instead of abandoning the Kansas town, the community quickly embraced the task of rebuilding it from the ground up, maximizing the use of renewable energy sources and energy efficient building techniques. Rebuilding continues, but the future of Greensburg has never been stronger.
Water and gas provide the energy for Peru’s power generation sector, and the country could generate considerably more, especially from hydro and wind. While the nation strives to extend electricity service to all its citizens, it’s also looking beyond its borders for potential future customers.
Venezuela, a country that relies on hydropower for almost three-quarters of its electricity, has been battling a deepening electricity crisis since a drought in 2009 and a sudden 7% surge in demand brought the country’s power system to the brink of collapse.