Africa Takes Lead in the Largest PV Hybrid Thermal-Solar Power Plant

Creating Africa’s largest PV hybrid thermal-solar power plant, the Finnish technology group – Wartsila is all set to deliver a PV solar plant – 15MW in Burkina Faso. While the plant is likely to be operational next year, the PV solar development is planned to be integrated with the existing Wartsila 55-MW thermal plant (which runs on heavy fuel oil), in order to power IAMGOLD’s Essakane Mine – situated northeast 220km of the Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou.

“The project has been motivated by an appetite to lower operating costs via reducing fuel usage, but also by a desire to reduce CO2 emissions” manager of business development – Jerome Jouaville (Wartsila Energy Solutions).

Jouaville further adds “it’s not an uncommon situation. In fact, we see many potential customers interested in this kind of hybrid solution, particularly over the African continent”

As per Wartsila estimation, the addition of solar PV will significantly enable a fuel consumption reduction up to 6 million litres per annum, including the reduction in CO2 annual emissions up to 18,500 tons.

As Jouaville believes; successful interface between solar PV plants and thermal is the key to such hybrid project and this is something that is achieved by means of control systems.

“ In order to successfully introduce solar PV, and offset some thermal generation capacity, we need to design and ensure that any time we push solar PV, we still have enough spinning reserve in the system to meet the mine’s base demand, of roughly 40MW, even in the event of cloud-cover, or engine shutdown” – says Jouaville

Alternatively, Director of business development, renewables, Karim Wazni told Renewable Energy World that “Hybrid generation is about achieving the best of both worlds. Combining thermal power plants with solar or wind power, helps us bring the reliability, availability and flexibility of thermal power plants together with the low cost of electricity derived from renewable energy sources”

He also added that the additional benefit is actually to reduce customer’s exposure towards fluctuating fuel prices.

Until now, Wartsila is adapting to its operating system of diesel engine to fully accommodate the PV solar generation.

“The system will manage outputs and loads, and control engines according to solar PV output to ensure we meet demand whilst keeping enough spinning reserve in the system. The priority for us is to deliver something that avoids jeopardising mining operations” says Jouaville

However, the perennial concern for all the energy-intensive industries, and the basic cause for showing reluctance to switching towards renewables, despite potential economic benefits, is the reliable, sustained power supply.

Nevertheless, Wartsila and Jouaville is confident and truly believes that hopefully they will be able to emphasize the need of hybrid technology with the success of this project.

While for sure it is a stepping stone to renewable industry, but it comes with the timeline of making conventional thermal plants offline, also stretching out for years to come, making hybridization a promising interim solution.

Also considering these circumstances, the notion of including battery storage seems pretty logical in terms of lessening reliance and enhancing plant resilience on engines.

China has achieved a new Milestone of Producing Renewable Energy

Country has added 7.21 GW of solar capacity in the first quarter of the year 2017

Maintaining and matching the pace of the previous year of adding renewable energy into the national grid, China has added another 7.21 GW of new solar energy in the first quarter of 2017. 4.78 GW of the total energy is being generated from the large-scale setups, while the remaining watts of energy are coming from the distributed solar panels across the country.

The addition of 7.21 GW of energy has increased the collective solar PV capacity to around 85 GW. This development suggests that the electric output of photovoltaic plants has risen to 80% from the first quarter of 2016. All these stats are provided by China’s National Energy Administration (NEA).


Renewable energy is spreading all across the country

To make solar energy options more prevalent, China is trying to replicate the PV market scenario of the Northern Interior and Western Region in the rest of the country, especially the Central and Eastern Coast. Therefore 89% of the total newly added solar capacity is located in the central and eastern parts of the country.

More than 25% of the newly added solar capacity is concentrated in four eastern provinces of Shandong, Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu.


The Issue of Curtailment

However, all operations of renewable energy are not going smooth during the first quarter of the year. Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Qinghai all witnessed time outs due to the increase in curtailment of 11 %, 8 %and 9 % respectively. The most affected renewable power project due to curtailment is the one located in Xinjiang. Wind plants in the province remained dormant for nearly 40% of the time in the first quarter of this year.


Forecast for the remaining Year

With the help of data collected from the important industry players, the extensive analysis from the China National Renewable Energy Center has predicted some interesting figures for the year 2017.

  • By the end of the first half of the year, the newly added solar capacity of the country will touch the 24 GW mark.
  • Around 17 GW of this energy would be generated from large-scale solar installations and the reaming 7 GW will come from distributed solar voltaic cells. These figures are three times more than what was being produced in the first half of the previous year.
  • In the second half of the year, the distributed solar Photovoltaic cells will continue to maintain growth due to government’s lenient policies for the development of the sector.
  • The forecast for the full year indicates that at the end of the year, there are strong chances that the newly added solar capacity will cross the figure of 40 GW.

Adopting renewable energy as the main power source is still a long shot. Decreased economic activity and the recession of energy oriented industries have begotten the issue of overcapacity. However, country’s solar PV sector is expected to experience stability in the coming years.

Carbon Pollution – Government Data Observes Soar in Australia’s CO2 Emissions

Carbon pollution is the primary underlying source of increased planetary heat. Speaking of increased temperature, Australia has also been facing soaring CO2 emissions in the past few years.

The greenhouse emissions of Australia are continuously increasing, making it more difficult for Australia to meet international commitments. This is something that is also observed in the presented government data.

As per the analysis of the National Greenhouse Inventory, the CO2 emission in the March quarter rose up to 1.6 percent. These statistics were further confirmed by the Environment Department which claimed the quarterly increase as the largest increase in the last nine years.

138.3 million tonnes of emission is a huge number for a quarter. However, if we also consider land clearing, then the total is even more than it was in September 2005. As per the annual analysis, the emission of CO2 in Australia has reached 550.4 million tonnes, excluding used land changes such as the land clearing.

“This is simply a disgrace and a complete failure of policy, a failure the government has no plan to fix,” says spokesman of Labor’s environment – Mark Butler

He further emphasized that Australia observed almost a 10% drop in pollution during the period of 2007 – 2013 labor governments. However, considering the prevailing coalition government, the emissions have drastically risen almost 6% since 2013.


The Source behind Soaring Emissions

Surprisingly, the emission increase is not associated with the electricity sector. Even though it is one of the largest sources of pollution, the sector has received a 1.9% down from the past year.

Instead, the rise in emission – 5.8 percent– came from the sector of stationary energy, excluding electricity and that, too, is due to the ramping up of the LNG industry. As per the presented data of the March quarter, the pollution emission from agriculture was reported 2.5 percent and 2.8 percent from the industrial processes in comparison to last year’s stats.

Energy and Environment Minister – Josh Frydenberg is proud of the power sector emission drop. He says; “Importantly emissions in the electricity sector have continued to fall, including 0.6 per cent (trend) in the March quarter and 1.1 per cent (trend) in the December quarter”.

On the other hand, Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council’s Chief Executive points at the jump in overall emissions;

“There is one test of a climate policy: is pollution down? Under the government’s policy framework, pollution keeps going up and up. This data is just another alarm bell ringing that the federal government is choosing to ignore – all while Australia’s pollution levels soar, driving worsening climate change.”

In the bottom line, Australia is committed to reducing 2000-level emissions by almost 5% by the year 2020. This is a target that is expected to be reached because of the earned credits during the period of Kyoto Protocol.

Moreover, the Turnbull government is also signing the Paris Climate Accord, pledging that the country will achieve the target of reducing the emissions by 28 percent by the year 2030.

The Solar Thermal Project of 390 Megawatt Gets Environmental Approval

Solar Reserve has recently announced receiving environmental approval for its 390 Megawatt Likana solar thermal plant from the government of Chile. This project in the Antofagasta region of Chile is likely to have 5.1-GWh storage of energy.

The industry leader – Solar Reserve – is planning to build a solar thermal (390 MW) power station that would give out 5100 megawatt-hours of storage of energy. This productive idea has made the Solar Reserve successful in its attempt to get the environmental approval – a third one – with regards to the solar thermal project, which aims at providing a non-intermittent as well as 24 hours of energy to Chile. Also, at a price that is competitive with the generation based on fossil fuel.

Previously in March, Solar Reserve had received an approval from Chilean government with regards to its Tamarugal concentrating project, based in the region of Chile called Tarapaca. The project aims at having at least three –  150 MW – towers (solar thermal), allowing 13 hours of energy storage at each tower, that makes it around 5.8 GWh of the total capacity of energy storage.

According to Tom Georgis, the Senior Vice President of development at Solar Reserve;

“The Chilean transmission system will have difficulty accommodating large amounts of intermittent power. The distribution companies and mining sector require a firm, secure, and stable supply of electricity 24 hours a day. The Likana project will help lower electricity costs for Chilean families and businesses, while safeguarding grid stability.”

Using the energy storage technology based on solar thermal, Likana solar thermal project facility is likely to provide 390 MW of non-intermittent output. This will result in generating over 2800 GW-hours annually. The facility will operate at an availability percentage and capacity factor equal to fossil fired plant, while giving highly competitive power price, also with emissions of 0%.


Solar Reserve aims for more, making the most of its current projects in Chile

Solar Reserve plans to bid associated energy, from not only just Likana, but also taking into consideration some of its other project in Chile and that is too, into the awaited auction with regards to firm energy supply – issued annually by the power distribution organizations of Chile.

As stated by Kevin Smith, CEO of Solar Reserves;

“What’s happening in Chile is a preview of the future of solar thermal with energy storage around the world. Even more remarkable than baseload solar, Solar Reserve set a new benchmark for solar thermal pricing by bidding 6.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, without subsidies, in Chile’s last auction for energy supply, We’ve proven that solar with thermal energy storage can compete head-to-head with conventional energy on both functionality and cost.”

The achievement is expected to reap far-reaching impacts on a global level, as grids are going to be cost-effective in incorporating the solar energy that will;

  • Provide baseload, non-intermittent power which can be integrated easily into the existing grids.
  • Provide adequate capacity to meet the demand more reliably during peak hours that is, generating energy when it is highly in demand or most valuable. Also reducing the risk and cost for electricity customers.

Solar Panels – Avoid Pricey Batteries and Get Round-the-Clock Power

The great invention of solar panels is truly transforming the way we receive power. How does round-the-clock hot water without the hassle of storing pricey batteries or units sound?

Solar power has now become a reality and the dwindling cost of this technology has resulted in many households getting more solar panels, using the system of hot water as effectively as the battery.

Rapid technological advancements have made solar power the alternative of choice for many households, they even help homeowners save money.

When using solar panels for power, only half of the produced power is used by households while the rest is bounced back to the main electricity grid. This helps save power which could be used by someone else. Additionally, households are now being paid an amount with regards to the power exported towards the grid. While the tariff has been a bit scaled back now, the tariff gives households a great incentive to use solar-generated power freely.

While expensive battery systems were the only choice for power saving, new monitoring devices are a much cheaper option which are being noticed by the mainstream public.

These devices cost $790 and make the most of ‘big data’, allowing people to easily stream music, post pictures and search for GPS direction while they cut off power bills.

As per the sustainability expert of Curtin University, Dev Tayal;

Big data allows households to optimize their energy use and allows people to have more control of what electricity they use from the solar panels, As electricity prices rise and as some of the more generous rebates and feed-in tariffs wind back, we’re only going to see an increased uptake of smart intelligent devices.”


The Use of Devices by the Households

There are many households that are now learning the mechanics of big data by using various devices such as Paladin for hot water. These devices collect a large amount of data through consistent monitoring of the electricity network. Once the device makes a sound estimate of the electricity requirement and hot water temperature, it then diverts the excess power to the system of hot water –one of the most power consuming devices in a household. Eventually, the surplus energy is again fed back into the electricity grid.

While the system has already been successfully trialed in New Zealand, there is also great potential in Australia for Paladin in terms of the fall in feeding tariffs and rising prices of power.

“It can divert — in a 50th of a second — power back to the hot water system watt for watt, it does not need to wait for the solar to match the size of the hot water element. Other products were doing a similar thing but weren’t turning the hot water element off so then all of a sudden power was being drawn from the grid, and that’s just defeating the whole exercise, whereas Paladin is monitoring both ways.” says the director for Paladin Solar Australia, Mark Robinson.

Following the invention of solar panels, there are now devices being used to heat a pool and charge electric cars. With this, we can say for sure that there are many surprises involving solar panels that are yet to come.

North Queensland will be Australia’s first exporter of solar power

Construction of Solar plants in the north of the country will be a game changer

For a long time, North Queensland has been in the limelight for the debate regarding whether the Carmichael coal project in the Galilee Basin should see the green light. There have even been talks of putting up a new coal-powered generator near the city of Townsville.

Amid all these talks of investing in energy with greenhouse emissions, there is a revolution going on in the domain of clean energy in the state which has made all those discussions pointless because north Queensland is going to be the first major exporter of solar power in the region.

After this development, the Australian energy council is contemplating dropping the idea of building a new coal-fired plant in the northern part of the country.

Most of the area has been conventionally dependent on the power imported from the coal-fired plants located nearly 1000 Km in the south. Now things are going to change.


Energy prospects are mindboggling

As of now, the region is witnessing a major hike in investment in renewable energy projects. Most of this investment is going into the solar PV and it will add 4,000MW of new capacity. This figure is four times more than the peak demand of the area.  It means the surplus generation of energy will turn North Queensland into a key exporter of solar renewable energy. All of the large-scale solar PV projects around the country generate 350 MW of power. These figures clearly highlight the enormity of solar power plants of North Queensland.


What is the response of major industry players?

Don McPhail, the head of network strategy at Ergon, which is now part of the Energy Queensland Group, opines that this energy boom in the north will spread across the country because of the amount of power it is going to generate.

According to him, there have been around 100 inquiries for large-scale plants of 5MW and more. More than 700 inquiries have been received for small to medium-sized plants in the range of 30 KW to 5 MW. These hundreds of inquiries clearly show the will of the many in North Queensland to adopt solar power as the local distribution system.

McPhail told the Clean Energy Summit, “We are seeing a big shift in the way in which the area will consume energy.” He also observed that local administrations are more willing to go for alternate energy resources such as solar and geothermal in order to make the local communities independent of the national grid and saving significant amount of money in this regard.

Sun Metals, a zinc producer, is leading the charge in this regard. They are going to build a 116 MW solar plant to strengthen their future plans of expanding their zinc refineries. Keeping the energy cost low can surely help them to achieve their target since solar is one of the sources to get cheap energy for a long time. Sun Metals becoming less dependent on the national grid will further weaken the case of developing a government-funded coal-fired plant.

IKEA forays into solar panels and home battery packs

IKEA says customers will get back all of their investment in 12 years

IKEA, the Swedish furniture and home furnishing giant, has started to sell solar power systems and battery packs in the UK. They are stating that households who sign up to the system can save up to £560 a year.

According to IKEA, by having those large battery installed on their walls, homeowners will be able to store extra power generated by photovoltaic cells. This is energy that otherwise gets wasted because it is not usually used in homes.

Due to the decreased prices of solar panels and the integration of lithium-ion batteries to store energy, many homeowners have been encouraged to install these panels on their roofs.

IKEA said that by using supersized battery packs, 60% of the electrical energy produced by solar panels is returned to the national grid instead of being used by homes.  More energy is added to the grid if properties with renewable energy setups remain unoccupied for longer times.

IKEA has started the online sale of the system by partnering with solar power company, Solarcentury. However installation of the system is pretty complicated unlike the do-it-yourself furniture assembly IKEA customers are used to. It takes nearly three weeks from site survey to installation.

Many potential buyers are taking the aid of Google maps to identify locations on their roofs suitable for the installation of solar panels.


They has also given the recoupment plan

According to IKEA’s quotation, these power-storing batteries cost around £ 3000. The complete system for an average household which includes batteries and solar panels bring up the cost to £6,295. It means homeowners can recover this clean energy investment in 12 years. Not all IKEA solar systems are of the same price though. Cost of solar panels with larger surface area can climb up to £10,000.

It is worth mentioning that the Government of the UK is also interested in investing in energy storage. Therefore, they have a plan to invest £246m in battery technology to sustain and support their industrial strategies.

The battery back systems similar to the ones made by IKEA are also sold by the American automaker Tesla, with the brand name “PowerWall”.

The founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, has also revealed their plans to design and sell solar plants resembling roof tiles. According to him, this development will change the dynamics and structure of world’s energy usage and production.


What are IKEA’s ambitions?

According to the statement from IKEA’s sustainability manager for UK, Hege Saebjornsen, “We’re always looking for ways to help customers take positive actions at home for both the environment and their wallets.”

He also mentioned that the increase in electricity price will expand the customer base for solar systems, “With energy bills already going up 15 percent this year, there’s never been a better time for customers to take back control of their electricity bills and maximize their savings by switching to solar and solar storage.”

Wind Turbine – The World’s Biggest Turbine Dwarfs London Eye

A 9.5-MW machine, one of the most powerful and giant turbines in the world, aims to dwarf the Empire State Building and the famous London Eye.

Being 614 feet tall – 187 meters, the tip of V164-9.5MW turbine will be looming over the 135-meter tourist attraction – the London Eye – at Thames River’s south bank. A single turbine machine is expected to generate power that would be sufficient to support 8300 UK homes as stated by Denmark-based turbine maker – Arthus.


Turbine makers spread their wings in Australia & Philippines

The biggest wind turbine maker – Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. — is making its footprint by acquiring new deals in Australia and Philippines.

The Shanghai Electric Power Design Institute Co. and Goldwind, signed the agreement of turbine supply for the Pasuquin wind – 132-MW in the Philippines in the second quarter of this year. This was the first deal in the market by a Chinese turbine maker, as stated by Goldwind International Holdings (HK) Ltd.

The Stockyard Hill Wind Farm in the Victoria State of Australia has also been bought by Goldwind in May from Origin Energy Ltd. The project is expected and planned to have the capacity of almost 530 MW. Goldwind International also confirms signed contracts outside China, for approximately 2 GW. Goldwind, taking the lead in making wind turbines, also had an in-principal agreement to build a 144 MW wind farm, with Aurora Energy Pty at the Central Highlands in Tasmania – Cattle Hill, according to a report. With that, Goldwind also presented clients in Africa with its new 3-MW platform-stated unit.


Massive turbines are more power efficient

The actual power output of a wind turbine solely depends on its height and size. Size varies, but these days, the typical wind tower is around 70 meters tall, attached to 50 meter long blades. On the upper end, the power output of these turbines ranges between 1 – 5 megawatt, enough to support almost 1,100 homes.

As per the assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at S.U.N.Y Buffalo University, John Hall;

“There’s this motivation to go to larger wind turbines, and the reason is pretty much economics,”

One reason for a giant turbine to be more cost-effective is because the wind blows steadily and stronger at higher altitudes. Thus a taller structure or wind turbine will be able to capture more energy in less time and with more power. Another reason for making bigger turbines is that taller towers allow lengthier blades and the power of turbine is largely related to the circular area that is covered by the blades.

Thus, if the length of the blade is doubled, the turbine system accelerates and produces 4 times more energy. Moreover, bigger turbines come with lower “cut-in” speed which is the speed at which energy is generated by the turbine.

Google Takes the Lead in Availing Renewable Energy in More Ways

Google takes the lead and looks at the bigger picture when it comes to storing renewable energy. It has two major plans to avail renewable energy that is expected to be utilized for major projects later on.

Eneco, based in Rotterdam, said that Google aims at purchasing all the electricity from SunportDelfzijl which has been the largest Netherland Solar Park for the past 10 years. As per Eneco, this agreement is the fourth investment by Google in terms of Netherland’s renewable energy and Eneco’s second agreement.

“After the agreement with Eneco for the delivery of wind energy from WindPark Delfzijl and the agreements with the wind parks Krammer and Bouwdokken, we are pleased that we can now also make use of solar energy. “ Worldwide, we have already contracted the delivery of 2.7 GW of green electricity, which makes Google the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. Contracts like this give companies like Eneco the economic certainty to invest in new renewable energy capacity.”
Says Google EU Energy Lead – Marc Oman.

Google aims at offsetting Google’s data centre consumption with the solar park power that contains almost 123,000 solar panels and will be delivering around 27GWh electricity. For the record, Sunport Delfzijl has been operating since this year’s beginning and was built and developed by Wirsol – a German Energy Company.


Google revolutionizing renewable energy storage

Involving antifreeze and vats of salt, Google plans to store the renewable energy that would otherwise get wasted. The plan is not only cost efficient but also has the potential to last longer than other ion batteries or existing methods of clean energy storage.

Alphabet – Google’s parent – is now working on this renewable energy project with the code name “Malta”. As per the report of a news agency; the renewable energy market could observe almost $40 billion by 2024 in terms of investment.

The plan is being developed by Research X of parent Alphabet. The lab already owns the efforts behind Project Loon (bringing internet connectivity in remote areas using weather balloon) and self-driven cars.

As per Bloomberg’s report;
The system that aims at storing renewable energy, or scaling the demands of energy, absorbs energy as electricity and eventually turns them into the stream of cold and hot air.

The cold air is responsible for cooling down the antifreeze and the hot air helps in heating up the salt. Since salt can maintain its temperature well enough, the system is best to store energy for longer periods – for hours or maybe days.

For energy recovery, the process is reversed, which powers the wind turbine. The installation of the system is still unclear. However, if it is successful, the system can be located anywhere to save millions of energy megawatts that are being lost or wasted each year and all over the world.

All in all, Google is thinking forward when it comes to availing more renewable energy and leading the way in setting an example for the upcoming commercial sector where there is a growing need for sustainable energy.

The Project of Energy Storage – Tesla takes Lead in Winning Contract for SA

To back up and support the blackout plagued South Australian power grid, Elon Musk’s Tesla inc. has taken the lead in winning the contract to supply the largest lithium-ion-battery in the world.

The step was taken to make good on a promise which was first made four months back over Twitter by Musk,  about resolving the energy woes of the state.

Pairing it with Hornsdale, a wind farm north of Adelaide, Tesla plans to provide almost 100 MW of storage by 1st DEC. According to the statement by Jay Weatherill, the South Australian Premier. In a separate statement, Musk also confirmed that the system, which is facilitated with the capacity of almost 129 MWh is likely to provide electricity to more than 25000 homes.

“We’re talking about something that’s three times as powerful as the next biggest battery installation in the world. We actually insisted when doing the contract that we be held to the 100 days or it’s free. That’s what we said publicly, that’s what we’re going to do” – Musk informs reporters in Adelaide.

“Battery storage is the future of our national energy market and the eyes of the world will be following our leadership in this space” says Weatherill in a statement. Moreover, Tesla also received the support of AGL Energy Ltd – Australia’s largest power generator.

Besides offering ‘powerwall’ to its customer – a residential unit of energy storage, Tesla is making a much larger scale system of energy storage called ‘powerpacks’ for world’s utilities and commercial businesses.


Battery Promise

Musk had previously promised to bring into operation the Tesla made battery storage project, designed to eradicate blackouts in South Australia. South Australia is the mainland state of Australia that is most dependent on renewable energy, however, this promise has brought Musk into a messy political spat over the policy of energy in Australia.

Australia is famous for being one of the largest producers of gas and coal worldwide, and the frequent power outages are now raising fear of suffering from more widespread outages across the nation. In addition, there is now more concern and question as to why the largest producer of gas and coal is itself deprived of electricity or, to be precise, struggling to keep the power on.

The idea of a 100-day battery that is presented by Musk received a receptive ear from the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull – who last year emphasized innovation and made it a flagship policy. Prior to politics, Turnbull made a fortune in the dotcom boom in the year 1990.

Mike Brookes, the tech billionaire, also showed interest and confidence in this project and expects it to be an effective move for the development in the South Australia.