Archive: Renewables

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What’s Damming Hydrokinetic Power in the U.S.?

Barely a month after the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensed the nation’s first commercial hydrokinetic power station, Houston-based Hydro Green Energy in January completed installation of the first of two turbines at an existing run-of-river hydropower plant on the Mississippi River for the Minnesota city of Hastings. When the second turbine is installed later this spring, the two hydrokinetic turbines will constitute a floating array that will sit on top of a barge at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Lock & Dam No. 2.

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Power Generators Turn to Diverse Fuels

Like the airline industry, power generators all over the world have been seeking alternative fuels with which to produce electricity, and the blends are bound to get stranger. One company is looking to make liquid fuels from chicken fat, beef tallow, and pork lard, for example. Here’s a list of innovative fuels that generators could use in the near future.

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PV Sales in the U.S. Soar as Solar Panel Prices Plummet

Solar panel prices have taken a 10% tumble since October last year, and they are expected to drop another 15% to 20% this year, owning to an oversupply from the mass of new factories and draining demand in Germany and Spain, where solar incentives were recently cut. In the U.S., the low prices — pushed even lower by the renewed solar tax credits that took effect on Jan. 1 and other incentives — have heightened demand, both on the distributed generation level and at utility scale.

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New Technologies Could Improve Solar Cell Efficiencies

Declining oil prices, supply issues, and dwindling financing may have battered solar energy in recent months, but the industry seems to have sparred well in the research arena. An assortment of institutions separately announced breakthroughs in their quests to boost the efficiency of solar cells. The technological advancements ranged in approach, from the development of an antireflective coating to the formulation of more efficient solar cell materials, but all point to promising possibilities for the industry.

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Landfills: From Trash to Treasure

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described landfills as an "effectively untapped resource" for renewable energy. The agency estimates that landfills are the source of about 12% of global methane emissions. (Methane is about 21 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2.) The EPA estimated that there were some 1,000 projects around […]

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Banking Wind

This spring, Xcel Energy, along with state and technology partners, is set to test what the utility says is the first battery capable of storing wind energy. The ability to store energy from renewable generation sources with variable output is key to maximizing the value of renewable power in general and to Xcel’s “smart grid” plans in particular.

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2009 Industry Forecast: New Power Politics Will Determine Generation’s Path

The U.S. power industry’s story in 2009 will be all about change, to borrow a now-familiar theme. Though the new administration’s policy specifics hadn’t been revealed as POWER editors prepared this report, it appears that flat load growth in 2009 will give the new administration a unique opportunity to formulate new energy policy without risking that the lights will go out.

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New Zealand Geothermal Station Opens

New Zealand’s biggest geothermal energy project in 20 years was officially opened in Kawerau in late November. The state-owned Kawerau Geothermal Station (Figure 5), on the North Island, adds 100 MW to the national grid.

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Brazil Approves Hotly Contested Construction of Amazon Dam

In an effort to more than double its power capacity by 2030, the Brazilian government in November approved construction of a controversial $3.9 billion hydroelectric dam on the Madeira River, in the Amazon. When completed in 2013, the Jirau hydroelectric plant could add 3,300 MW to the country’s already massive 59 GW hydroelectric capacity.