German researchers in February said they had developed the first-ever biogas plant to run purely on waste instead of edible raw materials. The team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS (Institut Keramische Technologien und Systeme) in Dresden said that the plant, which uses a fuel cell to convert the gas into electricity, exclusively uses agricultural waste such as corn stalks — and it generates 30% more biogas than conventional plants.
Renewable energy, though still accounting for a comparatively small portion of overall supply, generates a larger portion of the world’s electricity each year. Combining many of the available solar energy conversion technologies with conventional fossil-fueled technologies could reduce fuel costs while simultaneously helping utilities that are struggling to meet their renewable portfolio goals.
Upgrading a 1970s-era generator control system to new millennium technology in 12 days during a three-week shutdown would require careful planning and teamwork under any circumstances. The quick replacement of the governor and control system at the PT Inco smelter’s hydroelectric generation system is even more impressive because the facility is located in the middle of an Indonesian jungle.
It may seem counterintuitive, but fire can be a serious danger in hydropower plants. In some respects, the danger is even greater than in thermal power stations. Most U.S. hydro plants are 30 to 70 years old but can deliver another 20 or 30 years of service with upgrades — including state-of-the-art fire protection systems. The design options outlined here also apply in large part to other generating stations.
Hydrokinetic energy — which generates power by using underwater turbines that harness moving water — is on the rise in the U.S. In January, the first U.S.-licensed, commercial, grid-connected hydrokinetic project installed the first of two 100-kW nameplate-rated turbines downriver from an existing run-of-river hydroelectric plant on the Mississippi River.
Post-consumer waste could be the newest, ubiquitous fuel source for distributed energy generation if a mobile waste-to-energy conversion system launched this January finds its way onto the parking lots of facilities that produce more than two tons of waste daily. According to its developer, Massachusetts-based IST Energy, the GEM system can process up to 3 tons of waste daily — which can include paper, plastic, food, wood, and agricultural materials — and produce up to 120 kWe and 240 kWth.
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.
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.
Seventy-five countries from around the world joined a new political agency dedicated to the acceleration of green energy this January, but several notable nations — including the U.S., Canada, Australia, UK, Japan, and China — were not among them.
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.