Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category
” “There has never been a scientific question as to whether renewable energy could provide 100 per cent of Australia’s energy needs,” said Mr Want, who is also chief executive of energy developer Vast Solar.
“The question is whether we as a society and as a nation see value in harnessing that resource — for domestic use and for export — and whether we are prepared to demand of our leaders that they design policies to achieve those ends.” “
via Renewables: Australia’s a land of plenty.
“Silicon Valley has done a great job of talking about its disruptive potential, but there is something truly disruptive about solar: a fully distributed model of energy generation. We currently rely on the centralized hub-and-spoke delivery systems of the utilities, many of which are outdated and suffer tremendous losses as electricity travels from power plants, along transmission and delivery lines and into our businesses and homes. There is a massive infrastructure of regulation and enforcement in the energy market to underwrite the utilities; it’s one of the most highly regulated and noncompetitive markets in the country. Imagine a world in which homeowners and business owners are miniature power plants, with the full ability to sell power back to the grid at retail prices — power, literal and figurative, would be wrested from the hands of monopolistic, polluting utilities and their ancillary industries: mining, fracking and the like.”
AN: a USA centric article but applications apply to any country…getting power to residences and commercial entities can diversify the grid….and set up for smart grid tools…
via The Secret to Solar Power – NYTimes.com.
“Ikal Angelei is helping lead a campaign to stop construction of a major dam in Ethiopia that threatens the water supply and way of life of tens of thousands of indigenous people. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she explains what she believes is at stake in the fight against the Gibe III dam.”
via A Kenyan Woman Stands Up Against Massive Dam Project by Christina M. Russo: Yale Environment 360.
“He said that despite the failures of successive governments – including his own 1992-2000 administration in the US – to forge working treaties on climate change, and to cut greenhouse gas emissions, people should take the initiative by working together and individually to reduce their own impact on the environment. He pointed to the work of the biologist EO Wilson, whose most recent work suggests that human beings and other complex natural societies prosper through co-operation. “I believe that in a complex world … these creative networks of co-operation have to triumph over conflict-driven models,” said Clinton.”
via Bill Clinton: cutting use of natural resources would help US economy | World news | guardian.co.uk.
“Producing a workable thorium reactor would be a massive breakthrough in energy generation. Using thorium – a naturally occurring moderately radioactive element named after the Norse god of thunder – as a source of atomic power is not new technology. Promising early research was carried out in the US in the 1950s and 60s and then abandoned in favour of using uranium.
The pro-thorium lobby maintains this was at least partly because national nuclear power programmes in the US and elsewhere were developed with a military purpose in mind: namely access to a source of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Unlike uranium, thorium-fuelled reactors do not result in a proliferation of weapons-grade plutonium. Also, under certain circumstances, the waste from thorium reactors is less dangerous and remains radioactive for hundreds rather than thousands of years.
That is a considerable plus for governments now worried about how to deal with nuclear waste and concerned about the possibility of rogue governments or terrorists getting their hands on plutonium. Also, with the world’s supply of uranium rapidly depleting, attention has refocused on thorium, which is three to four times more abundant and 200 times more energy dense..
“Given India’s abundant supply of thorium it makes sense for her to develop thorium reactors,” said Labour peer Baroness Worthington who is patron of the Weinberg Foundation, which promotes thorium-fuelled nuclear power.
She added: “However, many of the advantages of thorium fuel are best realised with totally new reactor designs such as the molten salt reactor developed Alvin Weinberg in the 60s. I hope India will also commit to exploring this option.”
India has the world’s largest thorium deposits and with a world hungry for low-carbon energy, it has its eyes on a potentially lucrative export market for the technology. For more than three decades, India’s nuclear research programme had been subject to international sanctions since its controversial 1974 nuclear tests. But after losing its pariah status three years ago as a result of the Indo-US nuclear deal, India is keen to export indigenous nuclear technology developed in research centres such as the BARC.”
via India plans ‘safer’ nuclear plant powered by thorium | Environment | guardian.co.uk.
“Until recently, the development of the smart grid in Europe was largely centered around the integration of the significant amount of large-scale and micro renewable generation that Europe is planning to install. Currently, 10% of Europe’s power is generated from renewable sources, compared to 2.5% in the U.S., and this share is set to reach 20% by 2020.
Utilities throughout Europe are now starting to roll out smart metering as part of a European mandate to have smart meters installed in 80% of European households by 2020. On the basis of ambitious plans announced by utilities and regulators in France, Spain, the U.K. and a gradual rollout in other European member states, GTM Research forecasts an additional 100 million smart meters will be installed between now and the end of 2016. However, so far, most utilities have used advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) more with the objective of reducing operational costs and non-technical losses rather than for empowering consumers through improved access to information about their power consumption.”
“Smart metering rollouts are not only about technology; they are also very much about the process of rollout and the level of engagement achieved with consumers. Denmark’s SEAS-NVE, for example, paid careful attention to this aspect, to the point of training installers in how to talk to customers in their homes. As a result, the utility’s complaint rates dropped significantly and customers now save an average of 16% on their power bills.
Rather than focusing solely on technology, the key to persistent and effective consumer engagement is the provision of clear, timely and detailed information and actionable advice, placed in the context of larger societal objectives. Lowering transaction costs for consumers and strengthening social interaction, norms and values around energy use are key levers for increasing consumer engagement that are largely underutilized by utilities and regulators. ”
via 100 Million Smart Meters to Be Installed in Europe by 2016, but Are End-Users Engaged? : Greentech Media.
“The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation enables property owners to accept a voluntary tax assessment as a means of repaying upfront financing of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Twenty-six states in the United States, along with Australia, and New Zealand, have enacted legislation enabling the secure and scalable financing PACE structure. PACE has yet to take off in the U.S. for homes because of uncertainties in the financing of the program from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. But, the commercial side, now solidly financed, can take off.
The key motivator behind PACE is a sound one: there’s “no upfront capital cost.” No upfront capital cost was a key in unlocking the deployment of solar when, at SunEdison, I created the power purchase agreement for the solar industry. It enabled companies like Walmart, Staples, and Whole Foods to buy energy rather than buying a solar system. They pay for the energy used over time. It made solar make business sense.
Now, with this business consortium, we are unlocking the financing for the deployment of 20-year old technologies like more efficient lighting, cooling and heating, and water saving toilets.
When I tell most people about this new program, the immediate reaction is, “Well that’s a no brainer.” But simple, obvious, powerful, business-sense solutions take brains. It then becomes a “no brainer decision” for buyers creating $500 billion dollar industries.”
via Unlocking a $500 billion green industry, without government aid — Cleantech News and Analysis.
Implications of the decision by Germany to shut down its nuclear energy reactors in the light of the nuclear disaster in Fukashima Japan .
“With a total of 133 gigawatts of installed generating capacity in place at the start of this year, “there was really a huge amount of space to shut off nuclear plants,” Harry Lehmann, a director general of the German Federal Environment Agency and one of Germany’s leading policy makers on energy and environment, said of the road map he helped develop. The country needs about 90.5 gigawatts of generating capacity on hand to fill a typical national demand of about 80 gigawatts a day. So the 25 gigawatts that nuclear power contributed would not be missed — at least within its borders.
To be prudent, the plan calls for the creation of 23 gigawatts of gas- and coal-powered plants by 2020. Why? Because renewable plants don’t produce nearly to capacity if the air is calm or the sky is cloudy, and there is currently limited capacity to store or transport electricity, energy experts say.”
via Germany Dims Nuclear Plants, but Hopes to Keep Lights On – NYTimes.com.
It is exciting to see the ongoing innovation and striving to reach greater efficiencies and excellence in stewardship of our resources. Research and Development is vital to ensuring we can have clean energy in reality at a commercial level.
“Solar cells used today are unable to use certain wavelengths of light, thus reducing their efficiency. This band of solar spectrum that does not get utilized is the main reason behind the development of solar cells which are made of materials that would put to use, the currently unusable band of light.
Pioneering this technology are researchers at Stanford University who have demonstrated a set of materials which, when layered on the back of solar cells, would enable them to convert red and near infrared light into short wavelength light. This in turn would be converted to energy by the cells.
In collaboration with the Bosch Research and Technology Center in Palo Alto, California, a working system of these improved solar cells would be available for demonstration within 4 years, according to claims by researchers. Current solar cells cannot use more than 30% of the sun’s energy because of their low energy content.
The new solar cells in development seek to change that by using a process called ‘upconversion’, which basically relies on a pair of dyes absorbing the photons of a certain wavelength and re-emitting them as usable short wavelength light. This would improve the efficiency of the solar cells from 11 to 15 percent says the leader of the Stanford group, assistant professor, Jennifer Dione, thereby making them more cost effective.
Upconversion, although not new, has never been demonstrated in a solar cell. The process involves two molecules absorbing high wavelength photons, then combining and re-emitting it as usable high energy photons. Nano particles are being developed by Dione to facilitate a higher probability of upconversion occurring with the ultimate goal being to create sheets of the material.
Bosch’s goal is to demonstrate the entire process’ viability in 4 years’ time and taking into account the time necessary to facilitate large scale manufacture of solar cells with this technology, Bosch estimates commercial availability of this technology in 7 to 10 years.”
via Stanford Researchers Show Off Infrared Solar Cells | Solar Feeds News.