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.
The race is on to claim the title of "most efficient coal-fired power plant" on the planet. However, it’s tricky identifying finalists because of the widespread misuse of the term "efficiency" and all those nagging assumptions. Let’s first establish clear definitions and then identify the title contenders.
China’s largest solar panel maker, Suntech Power, in mid-November announced plans to open a photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Ariz., in the third quarter of 2010. Roger Efrid, Suntech’s managing director, was widely quoted as saying that the company — which holds 12% of U.S. market share and is looking to reach 20% by 2010 — chose to establish a plant nearer to customers. This was smart business, even though panels would be made from solar cells imported from China, because solar panels are heavy, he told The New York Times: "As the price of solar panels has reduced dramatically in the last 12 months, the shipping costs have become a larger and larger portion of the overall cost of getting these projects to market."
As the economy begins to grow again, the banking industry continues to stabilize, and lawmakers work on finalizing climate change legislation, the decisions made in 2010 will lay the foundation for the power industry for decades to come.
The U.S. isn’t the only country evaluating and implementing elements of smart grid technology. In fact, it could be argued that other nations are much farther along the path to a comprehensive, technically advanced system for integrating renewables, managing load, and creating a more flexible power grid.
With the eighth-largest economy in the world, Brazil has a clear need for power, but balancing supply and demand has proven tricky in recent decades. Even in a country where over 80% of generation capacity comes from renewables, planning for future capacity additions isn’t straightforward or easy.
"It’s déjà vu all over again," said Yogi Berra. The Hall of Fame catcher could easily have been predicting the coming resurgence of natural gas – fired generation. Yes, a few more coal plants will be completed this year, but don’t expect any new plant announcements. A couple of nuclear plants may actually break ground, but don’t hold your breath. Many more wind turbines will dot the landscape as renewable portfolio standards dictate resource planning, but their peak generation contribution will be small. The dash for gas in the U.S. has begun, again.
Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) deliberately induce seismicity — earthquakes — in order to access hot, subsurface rocks for use in geothermal power generation. Recent quakes around the world have frightened those living near EGS sites and sparked controversy over the technique. We asked experts to provide EGS technical details and to evaluate the seismic risk the process poses.
Renewable Generation in North America
(Web supplement to "Assessing the Earthquake Risk of Enhanced Geothermal Systems.") The future of geothermal energy will be driven by six primary technologies, but each will pose its own challenges.