Archive: Renewables

Biomass Electricity More Efficient than Ethanol, Researchers Say

Biomass — plant matter that’s grown to generate energy — converted into electricity could result in 81% more transportation miles and 108% more emissions offsets than ethanol, according to U.S. researchers. In addition, the electricity option would be twice as effective at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The study, published in the May 22 issue […]

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Scotland Officially Opens 100-MW Glendoe Hydro Plant

In late June, Scotland officially opened the Glendoe Hydro Scheme, a 100-MW project whose construction near Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands was the region’s biggest civil engineering project in recent times. Planning for the project began in 2001, and it took three years to build. Today, the project has the highest head — the […]

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Swiss Solar Plane Prototype Designed to Fly Day and Night

The first aircraft designed to fly day and night propelled solely by solar energy was unveiled at Dübendorf airfield, Switzerland, in late June. The Solar Impulse has the wingspan of a Boeing 747-400 and the weight of an average family car (1,600 kg) (Figure 4). More than 12,000 solar cells mounted onto the wings will […]

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Top Plants: Goodman Energy Center, Hays, Kansas

Midwest Energy has a history of thinking and acting independently, especially since breaking away from the Rural Utilities Service almost 15 years ago. Two years ago, when its board of directors grappled with finding a balance between purchasing and generating electricity, it decided to construct its first power plant in 37 years. A matched set of nine 8.4-MW gas engines at Goodman Energy Center now provides efficient peaking electricity, improved overall system reliability, and backstop capacity for a 325-MW electrical system that features 16% wind power generation.

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Floating and Flying Wind Turbines

After months of preparation, Norway’s StatoilHydro and Germany’s Siemens in June erected the world’s first large-scale floating deepwater wind turbine some 7 miles offshore Karmøy, southeast Norway, on the 720-feet-deep waters of the Amoy Fjord. The developers are now gearing up to connect the Hywind turbine to the local grid, and it could begin producing power as early as mid-July.

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Turning Sewage into Renewable Energy

News has been emerging from around the world about several projects that seek to turn human sewage — arguably the dirtiest of manmade wastes — into clean energy.

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European Interest in Saharan Solar Project Heats Up

Plans to install a series of solar panel farms in the Sahara Desert to power Europe and North Africa are heating up. The idea was discussed in May as part of the newly formed Mediterranean Union, launched at a summit in Paris, and it now has the backing of both UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarcozy.

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PG&E Makes a Deal for Space-Based Power

Just as reports emerged earlier this year that NASA had abandoned, for lack of financial resources, its research into space-based solar power that would be harnessed via orbiting solar arrays beaming microwaves to earthly receivers, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) wrote the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) requesting its approval of a power purchase agreement from a similar technology.

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"Smart Turbine Blades" to Improve Wind Power

Engineers at Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories have developed a technique that uses sensors and computational software to constantly monitor forces exerted on wind turbine blades. Their achievement could one day improve the efficiency of wind turbines by providing the blades’ "smart" structure with necessary data to adjust to rapidly changing wind conditions.

Managing Solar’s Revenue Impact on Utilities

Since 1882, when Thomas Edison installed the world’s first central generating plant in New York City, utility business models have varied little from the basic one: cover costs and generate profit by selling more electricity. But today, unprecedented challenges are sweeping through the industry. Soon utilities will face yet another new challenge: the large-scale implementation of distributed solar power, which can result in lower electricity sales. As solar implementation further challenges business-as-usual models, what’s a forward-thinking utility to do?