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 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.
Ethiopia in mid-January officially inaugurated the 420-MW Gilgel Gibe II hydropower project, the second hydropower plant to be opened since November 2009, when the 300-MW Tekezé project began operations.
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.
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.