Here are a few important efficiency stories flying under the radar.

energy-consumptionThis week has seen three big wins for energy efficiency, all of which have slipped largely under the radar.

First, Ohio ratepayers have reaped huge benefits from FirstEnergy bidding efficiency into the most recent PJM capacity auction, netting an expected $28 million over the four-year period where payments are available.

Next, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a new analysis finding that energy efficiency could save $4.2 billion in energy costs while creating $3 billion in economic output.

Last, but certainly not least, the American Gas Associated found that more than 40 gigawatts of combined heat-and-power (CHP) potential has a payback of less than ten years.

Ohio saves big bucks

Ohio ratepayers and regulators knew that statewide energy efficiency programs had to be cost-effective to be enacted, which is accomplished by paying off the capital investments through reduced energy consumption. A pleasant bonus, according to exclusive analysis from Sierra Club, is that First Energy's efficiency credits, totaling around 165 megawatts, have yielded new revenues of about $6.9 million per year for four years.

This contributes to offsetting program costs beyond the $4 these investments saved to every $1 spent. As Daniel Sawmiller, Senior Campaign Representative at the Sierra Club, explained, "This auction turns energy efficiency into a commodity that can be bought and sold like other forms of energy. It's a clean and inexpensive energy resource that creates downward pressure on electricity prices for everybody. We should be doing everything we can to maximize our energy efficiency and promote the lower prices and economic growth that go with it."

Efficiency directly saves consumers money on their monthly bills when they use less energy, but also indirectly with lower clearing prices in the capacity auction. Capacity auctions are less obvious, but equally important.

Capacity auctions ensure that resources are reliably procured three years in advance of when they are needed. To secure this capacity, the system operator holds auctions where the clearing price for all resources is set by the most expensive marginal unit required to meet demand. In other words, all resources get paid the price to run the most expensive generator needed. In this scheme, energy efficiency applies downward pressure to overall prices by reducing demand. This may mean, for example, that since less electricity is needed, a more expensive peaking natural gas plant does not have to come on-line. Because consumers ultimately pay these capacity payments through their rates, lower cost generation also equates to cheaper bills in the long run.

This process will help Ohio meet its strong energy efficiency standards for the state, which are projected to save $5.6 billion between now and 2020.

Louisiana's massive efficiency potential

On state-level energy efficiency standards, new analysis from the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy found that a combination of building energy codes, an energy efficiency portfolio standard, and CHP can save Louisiana $4.2 billion in electricity bills over the life of the investments.

Enacting these policies would also spur $3 billion in additional economic output, which would include $1 billion in wage increases and $663 million in new incomes to small business owners, plus $114 million in state and local tax revenue. The jobs picture is also strong; the report finds that these measures would create 27,100 person-years in employment, most of which would be local. Installation of cost-effective combined heat and power is a big part of the answer in Louisiana, with projections of 600 megawatts by 2020 and 1,500 megawatts by 2030. This includes industrial, on-site CHP and utilities investing in projects that they would partially own.

America's CHP potential

Louisiana is not the only place that could benefit from increased CHP investment. An excellent new report from the American Gas Association found that if capital cost incentives were employed -- such as the ones in New York and Maryland -- 39 states (including Louisiana) would have a combined 37,878 megawatts of CHP potential, with paybacks on those projects in the five- to ten-year range.

This would be very close to the 40 gigawatts of new CHP that Obama called for by 2020 in his recent Executive Order. The total potential across the United States, including projects that have a payback of more than ten years, expands to 123,303 megawatts. These payback periods lessen considerably in the scenarios that examine higher natural gas or electricity prices.

Monday, 03 June 2013 06:10

Congo $12 Billion Hydropower Plant

Congo Confident $12 Billion Hydropower Plant Will Proceed by 2015
The Democratic Republic of Congo will be ready to build the 4,800 megawatt Inga III hydroelectric plant by 2015, after two failed attempts to kick-start the $12 billion project, Minister of Energy Bruno Kapandji said.

Support from the African Development Bank and World Bank, and the emergence of South Africa as a guaranteed purchaser of 2,500 megawatts of power will help the country find the at least $8.5 billion of financing it needs, Kapandji said in a May 24 interview in Kinshasa, the capital.
"We have to demystify Inga, we have to show it's an ordinary project," Kapandji said. "We could lay the first stone in October 2015."

Inga III is the next step in the creation of a 40,000 megawatt Grand Inga complex, which would be the largest hydropower project in the world. Currently China's Three Gorges hydroelectric complex is the biggest with a generating capacity of 22,500 megawatts, while Brazil's Itaipu is the second largest at 14,000 megawatts. Inga lies on the Congo River, the world's biggest by volume after the Amazon and the power project is expected to supply a number of neighboring countries.

A $5.2 billion plan to build Inga III by Western Power Corridor, a venture between five southern African countries, fell apart in 2010 "because of bad preparation," Kapandji said. Two years later, BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest mining company, scrapped plans to finance the hydropower site when it decided not to build a proposed aluminum smelter in Congo.

Six Plants

The new Inga plan includes the creation of a catchment pool that will permit the construction of as many as six more plants, including Inga III, he said. The extra construction, along with the building of power lines to South Africa, explains the increase in cost, which could rise to $12 billion including inflation and financing fees, Kapandji said.

220px-Cg-mapCongo will choose a developer from three groups of companies. The groups are made up of China Three Gorges Corp. and Sinohydro Corp.; Posco and Daewoo Corp. of South Korea in partnership with Canada's SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.; and Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA, based in Madrid, and Spain's Eurofinsa Group which have submitted a third bid.

Congo is being advised by U.S. law firms Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Lazard Ltd., Tractebel Energia SA of Brazil and GDF Suez of France, according to Kapandji.

Project Financing

The financing each group can raise will be a key determinant of the selection process, Kapandji said. Once a choice is made, the minister expects other companies to join the project to reduce the risk. Last month, Kapandji traveled to Washington to meet with companies and promote the project, he said.

Congo has about 2,400 megawatts of installed capacity, less than 3 percent of its hydropower potential, the World Bank said last year. Because of mismanagement, only about half of that energy is available, it said, and most of the population of 70 million has no electricity. South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, has installed capacity of about 40,000 megawatts.

Some of Congo's mining companies are using generators or purchasing power from Zambia to fuel their processing plants. Congo is the world's eighth-largest producer of copper and the largest source of cobalt, which is used in rechargeable batteries. In the current Inga plan, 2,300 megawatts will go to mining companies in Congo.

The fees from South Africa and miners will help finance future energy projects for the population, Kapandji said. The United Nations ranked Congo the least developed country in the world this year, along with Niger.

South African President Jacob Zuma and Congo's President Joseph Kabila are set to sign a treaty cementing their cooperation on Grand Inga sometime this year, Kapandji said.

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 21:22

Wake up to solar energy advantage

INDORE: Realizing benefits of power generation from solar energy, three houses in Indore have gone for solar plant.

SolariaEnvis Technology deputy CEO Uday Bhole, who has worked closely on some domestic project says, "Though solar power plants are being used in commercial set-ups, including industries and at few public places like parks, college campus, a solar plant at home is always advantageous."

According to experts, for domestic use a minimum of 1500 watt panel is required, which can extend up to even 3200 watt depending on requirement. In Indore, these three plants are located at houses in Gulmohar Colony, Shalimar Township and New Palasia.

Managing director of a private firm, Ambrish Kela, who has plant at his Gulmohar Colony residence, asserts the idea is to use 'clean energy'. "Use of thermal electricity and automobiles are two biggest pollutants across the world. To use solar energy for domestic purpose is a way to contribute to clean energy and it's a way of living a green lifestyle," Kela says.

A businessman, Pranav Patel, has recently set up 10-panel solar power plant at roof top of high rise residential building in Shalimar Township. The panel has a capacity of 2250 watt electricity generation and it generates 7-8 units per day. Patel says, "I was using solar power panels at my factory, but the idea of having a plant at home struck, which was innovative and advantageous. Around eight units of power are used up each day."

At Patel's residence, out of 2,250 watt capacity 10-panel solar power plant, each panel has a capacity of generating 225 watts of energy. Another plant at New Palasia home is a 32-panel affair with a total capacity of 3200 watt. On an average, a solar power plant setting up costs Rs 3- 3.50 lakh.

Raj Patel, who has got the plant at his New Palasia house, says though it is quite an expensive affair, it will be hugely beneficial in a long run. "Using diesel for inverter was again not a clean source of energy. With solar power plant, dependency on conventional source has reduced. I have been looking for this kind of set up, but earlier, it was quite expensive, but now with a view of a long run investment, I find it affordable," Patel adds.

reneo"We're fifteen to twenty years out of date in how we think about renewables," said Dr. Eric Martinot to an audience at the first Pathways to 100% Renewables Conference held April 16 in San Francisco. "It's not 1990 anymore."

New Jersey’s solar brownfield experience...

When PSE&G, the largest utility in New Jersey, announces that it’s investing nearly half a billion dollars in mid-scale solar, developers in the West should take notice. Why? Because the Garden State, in addition to being blessed with rich soil, has an abundance of brownfields and landfills upon which the utility will build dozens of megawatts of new photovoltaic capacity.

 Solar Fiedld

Monday, 12 August 2013 02:48

Solar News

Recent Solar Energy News
Saturday, 10 August 2013 12:21

Livestock Waste Powers Queensland Farm

AUSTRALIA - A Queensland bioenergy company has secured a multimillion-dollar contract to deliver the largest renewable power generation plant of its kind in the country.

The process will convert into electricity effluent from one of the country's largest livestock production facilities in southeast Queensland, reports Gold Coast.

bioenergyThe project is a joint-venture between Yatala-based Quantum Power and its Australian and New Zealand technology partner, RCM Digesters Australia. RCM is a subsidiary of California-based RCM International.

The new Queensland facility will provide 600kW of installed power generation capacity, making it the single largest installed renewable power generation plant at an intensive livestock production facility in Australia.

The next largest is a 460kW plant now under construction, also supplied by Quantum Power.

The biogas-fuelled power plants are generating huge energy savings for the livestock and food production industries.

In one instance, a Queensland livestock producer that was paying A$15,000 a month for electricity is now producing its own energy and receiving A$5000 from the energy provider each month.

Quantum Power chief executive Richard Brimblecombe said the new biogas project was expected to replace more than 95 per cent of grid-supplied energy for the livestock enterprise.

He said Quantum had started work on the biogas-fuelled power plant, with construction expected to be completed in nine months.

Mr Brimblecombe said the project would lead to significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by slashing methane produced by livestock effluent.

"The business will become almost self-sufficient from an energy perspective and become insulated from future electricity price rises," he said.

"The engineered anaerobic digestion system will not only save our client millions of dollars in electricity bills over many years, it is also remarkably better for the environment.

"Some livestock producers are spending up to A$100,000 a month on electricity and we can help dramatically reduce, and in some cases eliminate, their grid-supplied power usage."

Quantum Power is proving a leader in the field of renewable energy, having delivered nine biogas plants around Australia.

They have been installed at livestock facilities in southern Queensland and central NSW and at food-processing plants in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

SOLAR-HAITIThe United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been installing solar powered refrigerators in Haiti to keep vaccines cool.
Parts of the earthquake ravaged country still lack reliable electricity sources, making it difficult to keep important vaccines in the right conditions for use.

Fridges can be powered by gas, which doesn’t require electricity, but it is not always possible to transport heavy gas tanks across long distances, especially if roads are damaged.
Monday, 03 June 2013 05:48

Turbines On Kites?

Clean Energy From Wind Turbines On Kites? Google Thinks So.

kitesIt sounds like a flight of fantasy: mount wind turbine generators on gigantic kites, then fly them a thousand feet off the ground to generate power. But one company pushing this literal "blue sky" concept got a huge real-world vote of confidence recently: Google bought them.

Google's acquisition of Makani Power is still in the works. The buyout hit the renewable energy trade press suddenly this week after a feature story in Business Week describing the search engine giant's science-fictiony Google[x] research arm, which is also responsible for the self-driving car and Google Glass projects.

Makani Power's website seems to be suffering under heavy traffic in the wake of the BusinessWeek story, but the working models of its tethered flying turbines seem to do better under pressure. The Makani Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) is essentially a "flying wing"-style light aircraft, tethered to a ground anchor by a composite fiber cable. When the AWT is aloft, small wind turbines mounted on the blade-like wing convert the energy of the air rushing past the wing into electrical power. That power is conducted down the tether to a ground station.

In standard operation, the AWT is designed to loop in large more or less vertical circles at the limit of its tether, somewhere between 800 and 1,950 feet off the ground. If the wind slackens, the AWT's turbines serve double duty as propeller engines to keep the unit aloft. Having gotten promising results with a 30-kilowatt model of the AWT, Makani is working on a 600-kilowatt version. Acquisition by one of the richest tech companies on the planet can only help.

turbineRegular readers of ReWire may well wonder whether this type of wind turbine offers less potential threat to birds and other wildlife. The short answer? We don't know. The AWT wing is designed to resemble a standard wind turbine blade in an aerodynamic sense, and so it can be seen as a single-bladed wind turbine without a pole. Deploying the AWT at 1,000 feet or more above the ground will reduce risk from the blade to birds that don't usually fly that high, but then there's the added danger from the tether as well, which could move fairly quickly in its upper reaches and not be all that visible. Makani's tests are being conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area on open lands, but the company's long-term goal is offshore deployment. That means wildlife injured by the AWTs would fall to the ocean, and detection by wildlife biologists tallying the technology's impact would be essentially impossible.

But that's handwaving on ReWire's part. If the technology advances, we'll be interested to hear what the biologists have to say. In the meantime, Makani's tech is pretty interesting for its gee-whiz factor alone.

Andhra Pradesh Government is planning to offer 20 per cent subsidy in addition to the 30 per cent subsidy offered by the Union Government for solar units. According to a statement from the Energy Conservation Mission, the additional subsidy will come through budgetary support. Households can sell extra solar power to the grid at pool cost.

The State Government is planning to conduct a solar exhibition in coordination with industry and trade bodies, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

This is aimed to highlight the impact of solar power for the benefit of industries, entrepreneurs and the general public.

M. Sahoo, State Principal Secretary, Energy, in a statement said the accent was on harnessing solar power by encouraging industries and other entities to set up solar power plants for captive consumption as well as for third-party sale within the State.

AP Transco has invited bids for procurement of 1,000 MW of solar power and received 331 bids offering 1,730 MW. It has offered Rs 6.49 per unit.

AP Transco has agreed to provide connectivity for 779 MW of solar power for industries having captive power plants.


apsolarExperts from the solar energy sector and New & Renewable Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh deliberated on various issues relating to solar energy sector.

At a meeting organised by the Gujarat Energy Research & Management Institute (Germi), M. Kamalakar Babu, Vice-Chairman and MD of Corporation, said considerable amount of power could be saved by tapping solar power.

He said the State offers to extend concessions on land registration and VAT and offer other benefits making it attractive to set up solar units.