Archive: Renewables

Top Plant: Colmac Energy Inc.’s Biomass- Fueled Power Plant, Mecca, California

The 47-MW Colmac Energy facility is the largest biomass-fueled power plant in California. Colmac operates with a capacity factor consistently in the 92% to 95% range and at a net plant heat rate comparable to waste coal facilities. Colmac Energy has demonstrated that biomass plants using urban wood wastes as fuel can generate significant environmental benefits, including reduced air pollutants from open-air burning and lowered demand for landfill space.

UK Cancels Tidal Barrage Plans, Approves Key Nuclear Sites

The UK government in late October shelved plans to build the Severn barrage—a project that would have involved building a 10-mile dam across the mouth of the Severn River—after a two-year-long feasibility study failed to convince ministers to use public funds to build it. The Department of Energy and Climate Change instead gave its long-awaited approval to eight sites for new nuclear reactors, saying that private companies could begin building the country’s new fleet of reactors, provided no public subsidy is involved.

Top Plant: DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, DeSoto County, Florida

The forecast is looking sunny for the 25-MW DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which has more than 90,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels and is the largest solar PV plant in the U.S. Completed in October 2009, it is a sustainable energy solution with minimal maintenance costs. The site uses no fuel, consumes no cooling water, has no air emissions, and creates no waste products.

The Global Smart Grid Scene

Presenters at the inaugural GridWise Global Forum in Washington, D.C., September 21 to 23 had a lot to say about the prospects for smarter grids. This synopsis of facts and opinions shared at the event, which attracted several smart grid A-listers, looks at the major challenges ahead, especially for the U.S.

Smart Power Generation at UCSD

The University of California, San Diego has been accumulating awards for its savvy use of a constellation of power generation and energy-saving technologies. The campus already controls a fully functioning microgrid—including a cogeneration plant—and, as befits a research institution, is constantly looking for new ways to make its energy system smarter. This “living laboratory,” as campus leaders like to call it, demonstrates what it takes to build a smarter grid and why the effort is worth it.

World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Opens in the UK

Swedish company Vattenfall in late September officially opened the 300-MW Thanet Offshore Wind Farm in southeast England. Covering an area of 35 square kilometers, the installation comprising 100 Vestas V90 turbines, each 115 meters (m) high, is the largest offshore wind farm in the world to date.

Biomass Power Under Attack

Biomass energy has been an up-and-down industry for decades. As public awareness grows, it inevitably influences new tax legislation and environmental regulations. Two recent events have made the climate for development of this renewable resource even more volatile.

FBC Control Strategies for Burning Biomass

As a boiler fuel, biomass has shown great promise while suffering from a slow development history. One factor limiting its use has been the combustion system. For the most part, conventional grate-fired boilers have been the only option. Today, the most efficient approach to burning biomass to produce electricity and steam is fluidized bed combustion (FBC). Whether you choose FBC or grate, biomass presents unique challenges to control system designers.

Australia Fires Up Solar-Diesel Hybrid Plant

Australian company Horizon Power opened the country’s first hybrid solar-diesel power station in August near Marble Bar, and it is readying another for operation in the neighboring town of Nullagine, Western Australia—a region infamous for extremely hot temperatures. The power stations are the first “high penetration, hybrid solar-diesel systems” in the world, claims Horizon, adding […]

Offshore Devices Get Bigger and Lighter

UK firms unveiled two innovative offshore turbines in July and August—one to reap the wind’s energy and the other, tidal power. Wind Power Ltd. made public the latest embodiment of its Aerogenerator project, a lighter 10-MW design, while Atlantis Resources Corp. unveiled and then deployed its mammoth AK1000 tidal turbine, which it says is the […]