Submitted by amyguinan on November 4, 2010 – 2:05pm
Concentrated solar power (CSP) systems use lenses or mirrors to focus a large area of sunlight onto a small area. Electrical power is produced when the concentrated light is directed onto photovoltaic surfaces or used to heat a transfer fluid for a conventional power plant. Recent research and developments in CSP systems are yielding impressive results – and beyond the R&D phase, real CSP projects are moving forward and being implemented creating renewable energy and new jobs.
In our home state of Colorado, tests conducted by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden confirm that SkyFuel’s parabolic trough solar concentrator, the SkyTrough, has the highest standard for efficiency in its class. NREL tests show the SkyTrough’s thermal efficiency at 350 degrees C (662 degrees F) to be over 73% efficient, meaning that nearly three quarters of the solar radiation striking the trough surface is converted into thermal energy.
In California six utility-scale solar power plants have been approved in California. When completed, the combined power generation will be 2.8 GW, powering up to 2 million homes. The largest of these 6 projects is the Blythe Solar Power Project, it will be the largest solar project ever on public land and will use parabolic trough similar to that used by SkyFuel in Golden. Beyond the efficiency of this CSP systems, another advantage of this technology is that the heat can be stored in molten salt and used to create power when the sun isn’t shining.
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Conventional wisdom sometimes suggest that as more renewables are added to a utility’s generating mix, the average cost of electricity increases, but French feed-in tariffs for wind, hydro, biogas and other technologies not only did not cost money in 2008, they also saved French ratepayers five million Euros through the year.
Furthermore, generation from renewables in France increased nearly three fold from 2003 through 2009.
Previous studies in Germany, Denmark, and Spain illustrated the significant monetary benefit when renewables offset conventional generation.
Submitted by amyguinan on September 21, 2010 – 5:56pm
Israeli energy company, Better Place, has successfully launced a test-run of an electric taxi-fleet in Tokyo, Japan. The taxis pull up to the garage, and in 52 seconds have a new, recharged battery installed to the bottom of the car — less time than it takes to fill a tank of gasoline. There are 60,000 taxis in Tokyo – the largest fleet of any urban center in the world – collectively, they guzzle more than $600 million in gas a year. With the success of the July launch, other nations including Isreal, China and Denmark are eyeing the possibilities of electric vehicles – and are considering similar test fleets. Electric vehicles will soon be coming to American showrooms, also.
Submitted by Leslie Glustrom on July 15, 2010 – 7:57pm
As Colorado and other states increase the levels of renewable energy on their system, it raises the question of how much renewable energy can be accomodated on the grid given issues of variability and uncertainty. A recent detailed analysis gives an optimistic answer and outlines what needs to be done.
After two and a half years of study, a large team of researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden along with other utilities and industry experts, released the long-awaited Western Wind and Solar Integration Study which concluded that for a group of Western utilities known as “West Connect” it is possible to accomodate up to 30% wind and 5% solar energy if additional efforts are made to increase the level of cooperation between what are known as balancing areas and to incorporate state of the art forecasts and other tools that will allow the grid to respond as renewable energy increasingly displaces fossil fuel generation.
The Western Wind and Solar Integration Studies can be accessed here. The Executive Summary is attached below.
Submitted by Leslie Glustrom on July 15, 2010 – 6:58pm
Feed In Tariffs are the policy that Germany has used to drive a very robust wind and solar market in a country that has very little sunshine! Now over 60 countries are proceeding with Feed in Tariff policies and these are leading to almost miraculous levels of renewable energy installations and investments.
The name derives from the “tariff” or rate that is paid for small generators to “feed-in” renewable energy to the grid. The development of Feed In Tariff or FIT policy has allowed the development of renewable energy to become a business proposition–instead of just a desire to do what is right.
Wind pioneer Paul Gipe has followed the development of FIT policies around the world and keeps an excellent catalogue of developments on his website at http://www.wind-works.org/articles/feed_laws.html.
One article on Paul Gipe’s website notes that using FIT policy, Germany installed more solar photovoltaic systems in the first quarter of 2010 (714MW)than the United States installed in all of 2009 (approx 435 MW)! That is just one of the examples of the power of FIT policy. Go here to read the details.
Also, on July 7, 2010 a study from Daniel Kammen’s group at the University of California-Berkeley underscored the benefits that a FIT policy for California would have–for meeting the Renewable Portfolio Standard, for creating jobs, for increasing state revenues and for stimulating new economic development. Read the summary of the California study here.
Information on FITs can also be found on the website of the Alliance for Renewable Energy.
In Colorado, a group has begun discussing the development of FIT policies for Colorado, holding meetings, workshops and posting key studies. Workshops on Feed In Tariffs are being hosted by Community in Power. An evening talk and all day workshop are scheduled for July 21-22, 2010 in Boulder and should be very informative. Your attendance is encouraged, or if you can’t make it (as I can not) then try reading some of the articles at the above links. They will make you smile–and perhaps drool…:)