Like the little engine that could, the University of Nevada, Reno experiment to transform wastewater sludge to electrical power is chugging along, dwarfed by the million-gallon tanks, pipes and pumps at the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility where, ultimately, the plant’s electrical power could be supplied on-site by the process University researchers are developing. “We are very pleased with the results of the demonstration testing of our research,” Chuck Coronella, principle investigator for the research project and an associate professor of chemical engineering, said. “The process to dry the sludge to make it burnable for a gasification process, which could then be transformed into electricity, is working very well. This is an important step for our renewable energy research, processing about 20 pounds an hour of sludge in a continuous-feed system to produce about 3 pounds an hour of dried powder.” The team of researchers custom built the processing machine in a lab at the University and brought it to the plant for testing. It uses an innovative process with relatively low temperatures in a fluidized bed of sand and salts to economically produce the biomass fuel from the gooey sludge. Read full release here.
Cannon Power Group Closes $547 Mill Power Sales Transaction With So. California Public Power Authority
Del Mar-based Cannon Power Group announced today the closing of the sale of a 20-year block of renewable power to Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) for $547 million. This is believed to be the largest transaction of its kind in the power industry. The power will be provided from Cannon Power Group's 262-megawatt (MW) Windy Flats wind project in Goldendale, Washington under a long-term power purchase agreement entered into last year by the parties. "This uniquely structured transaction is a true win-win for both parties," said Gary Hardke, president of Cannon Power Group. "It combined SCPPA's low-cost, tax exempt bond financing with the federal stimulus grant program to produce a very attractive long-term cost of renewable power." SCPPA reportedly closed its 20-year bond financing at the end of August at pricing of less than four percent, according to Bloomberg News. Cannon Power Group received total federal stimulus grants of $220 million in connection with the project. "This was really a remarkable and innovative transaction," said attorney Tom Trimble, partner and co-head of the Renewable Energy Practice at Washington D.C.-based Hunton & Williams, who represented Cannon Power Group in the transaction. "It allowed the parties to navigate the credit crisis and take advantage of the low interest rate environment." Cannon Power Group's Windy Flats project went on line earlier in 2010. It is part of the company's 500 MW Windy Point/Windy Flats project. The project, one of the largest wind projects in the United States, and representing an investment of over $1.2 billion, spans over 26 miles along the Columbia River. It is expected to be completed in 2011 and has provided over 350 new jobs to the local area. Cannon Power developed and constructed the project.
Over time, most solar cells degrade due to prolonged exposure to the sun's scathing rays and are rendered useless. But with a little inspiration from nature, researchers have now created a new solar material that regenerates its damaged energy-capturing packets on-demand. A small prototype solar cell built from the self-healing material can continuously produce electricity for an entire week without losing any efficiency, the scientists report. The team was inspired by plants in nature. The ingredients within a plant’s leaves that turn sunlight into energy aren't actually immune to the sun’s damage. Instead, the molecules do their job (pump out sugar), get destroyed, and in less than an hour they regenerate. This process happens over and over again – enabling the leaves to produce energy at the same efficiency as they did on day one of their operation. Read the full article by Michelle Bryner here.
The DownEast 2010 Biomass Engineering Prize Competition seeks innovative solutions and technologies capable of transforming an underperforming biomass-fueled electricity generating facility in Maine into a vibrant part of the green energy grid. A recent operations audit concluded that available conventional retro-fitting options were uninspiring. This challenge has two simple goals: return the facility to profitability and utilize new and disruptive biomass-fueled electricity generation technologies that do not require massive capital investments and that can achieve sustained profitable operations. All manners of solutions will be considered, including new technologies and novel applications of existing technologies, process improvements and site re-use. In short, DownEast is seeking creative ingenuity from innovators across the globe.
The Greenasium really wants to be green. To do it, the new gym in San Diego is turning its customers into real gym rats. The Greenasium , which opened Wednesday, has three specialty spin bikes straight out of Gilligans Island that push electricity back into the grid, helping provide power to the gym and other electricity customers. Its the first human-powered fitness studio in San Diego, according to its owners. "The bike's are retrofitted by a company up in Seattle that we work with called Resource Fitness ," said Greenasium's co-owner Byron Spratt. "As the bike (spins), the wheel creates DC power, converts it to AC power, which is plugged back into the wall, which puts energy back into the grid." Spratt expects to add elliptical bikes in October to help offset their carbon footprint to an even greater extent.
Salt Lake County and its project partners, NexGen Energy and Bella Energy, announced the construction in downtown Salt Lake City of one of the largest roof-top solar panel installations in the United States. The estimated 600,000 square-foot system will be built atop the Calvin L. Rampton – Salt Palace Convention Center. When completed, the system will produce 2.6 megawatts of electricity, one-quarter of the annual needs of the convention center. The team presented a plan to install up to 2.6 megawatts of solar modules on the structure. If built to that capacity, the Salt Palace will host the largest rooftop solar facility in the United States, generating more than 3,330,000 kilowatt hours of electricity every year while reducing the building’s consumption by 25%.
Deere & Co. said Tuesday it would sell its John Deere Renewables unit, including wind farms, to Exelon Corp. in a deal valued at $900 million. Exelon said it's expanding its role in the wind generation business by adding 735 megawatts of wind energy, plus 230 megawatts under development, via the deal. Deere plans to take an after-tax charge of approximately $25 million in its fourth quarter results as part of the sale. Exelon said it would use debt to pay for the deal. Source: Steve Gelsi of Market Watch.
The Spanish multinational MECASOLAR will end 2010 with more than 4,200 trackers and fixed structures in solar farms throughout Italy,which will reach an output of 42 MW. This figure makes the Spanish company the leader in its sector in the Italian market. With MECASOLAR in Italy , the multinational will reach at the end of the current year 282 MW accumulated in tracker installations throughout the world, a figure which is equivalent to the manufacture and start up of more than 22,000 solar trackers in countries such as the United States, Greece, Italy, Germany, France or Spain, among others.
According to a new study of online American adults from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The study, Electric Vehicles: The Future of Driving, suggests electric vehicles entice consumers with improved environmental quality and potential cost savings, but leave them with questions about battery life and convenience of battery charging. Consumers are open to considering an electric vehicle in the future, with 42 percent reporting they are likely to follow news reports about electric vehicles. However, overall awareness of the various types of alternative vehicles remains low. While nearly one-third (32 percent) report they are familiar, or very familiar, with hybrid vehicles, only about one-quarter are familiar with electric-powered vehicles (25 percent). The study finds running out of battery power on the road (71 percent), lack of charging stations and/or not being able to recharge (66 percent) and limited mileage (59 percent) are the most common perceived disadvantages with electric vehicles. Home charging stations may also impact purchase decisions. Half of consumers (51 percent) would be less likely to consider purchasing an electric vehicle if they would have to install special charging equipment for the batteries.
With consumers looking to live more sustainably, electric vehicles are quickly gaining popularity as alternative transportation. The Electric Vehicle TechZone at the 2011 International CES features a full range of high- and low-speed vehicles, energy storage devices and charging equipment for the green-minded consumer. Garner unprecedented media coverage and access the industry elite, government officials and final decision-makers.
Imagine outfitting your house with small, affordable solar panels that plug into a socket and pump power into your electrical system instead of taking it out. That's the promise of a Seattle, Washington-based start-up that is working to provide renewable energy options -- solar panels and wind turbines -- for homes and small businesses. The panels cost as little as $600 and plug directly into a power outlet. The company, Clarian Power , aims to be the first to bring a plug-in solar power system to the market, in 2011. Clarian's president, Chad Maglaque, says the company's product is different from existing micro-inverters, which convert solar panels' power into AC current. Maglaque says his system has built-in circuit protection, doesn't require a dedicated electrical panel and plugs directly into a standard electrical outlet. Source: CNN
That's right, whisky. Scottish (where else?) researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have figured out a way to use the byproducts of their nation's most famous beverage as biofuel, capable of running in any normal engine. Like some other biofuels, no modifications to the car are needed, making it an easily adopted, if not easily made or found, alternative. During the making of whisky (in this case likely Scotch, rather than the more freedom-loving whisky of my own nation, the glorious amber elixir that is bourbon), two main byproducts are produced. "Pot ale" is the name for the leftover liquid in the stills, and "draff" is the leftover, used-up grains. Together, the pot ale and draff can be converted into butanol. Butanol can actually be burned in typical gas engines, but due to its higher cost and difficulty in producing, it's more likely to be added in smaller doses to regular gasoline-maybe 5% or 10%. Source - SmartPlanet.com
The ocean-current technology developer Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has been working on a pilot version of its cross-flow turbine since 2004. Over the last six years, the company has learned a number of important lessons about the difficulties of deploying energy technologies in the marine environment. ORPC's 30-kw unit, which was installed in the Bay of Fundy off the coast of Maine, was battered by bad weather and did not function properly due to wrongly-sized parts. But the company announced today that the test of its 60-kW pre-commercial device, known as the TGU, was running smoothly and had delivered compatible electricity to the Maine grid at a consistent output. No word on how much electricity was actually generated. The machine was installed in Cobsook Bay in Eastport Maine last fall. Source - RenewableEnergyWorld
Atlantis Resources Corporation (“Atlantis”) unveiled the largest and most powerful tidal power turbine ever built, the AK1000™, yesterday at Invergordon, Scotland. The AK1000™ is due for installation at a dedicated berth at the European Marine Energy Centre (“EMEC”), located in Orkney, Scotland later this summer. Despatching 1MW of predictable power at a water velocity of 2.65m/s, the AK1000™ is capable of generating enough electricity for over 1000 homes. It is designed for harsh weather and rough, open ocean environments such as those found off the Scottish coast. The turbine incorporates cutting edge technology from suppliers across the globe, has an 18 meter rotor diameter, weighs 1300 tonnes and stands at a height of 22.5 meters. The giant turbine is expected to be environmentally benign due to a low rotation speed whilst in operation and will deliver predictable, sustainable power to the local Orkney grid.
An alliance of U.S. home appliance manufacturers, energy and water efficiency organizations, consumer groups and environmental organizations have agreed to improved efficiency standards and tax policies for refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers and room air conditioners. The agreement could save enough energy to meet the total energy needs of 40 percent of American homes for one year and the amount of water necessary to meet the current water needs of every customer in the City of Los Angeles for 25 years, the partners believe. Further, global warming CO2 will be reduced by 550 million metric tons over the same time period, without considering the emissions reductions from smart appliances. The partners have called for new national minimum efficiency standards, production tax credits for super-efficient appliances, and the inclusion of smart grid readiness as a feature of future ENERGY STAR qualified appliances.
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