April 18, 2018
U.S. researchers work on 50 MW offshore wind turbine
April 18, 2018
A team of researchers in Colorado is working on a design for a 50-megawatt (!) offshore wind turbine, reports the U.S. website Greentech Media.
This is almost six times as powerful as the record-setting 8.8-megawatt turbine recently deployed off the coast of Scotland.
“The massive turbine marks an about-face from conventional wind turbine design”, explains GTM. “The standard wind turbine installed today is a three-bladed machine positioned with the blades facing incoming winds. The blades for the so-called Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) wind turbine would, conversely, face downwind. The “go-with-the-flow” design was inspired by palm trees, which have evolved to withstand hurricane gales.”
“Just as palm fronds bend and yield to the direction of the wind, the segmented blades for the SUMR turbine will fold together, aligned with the wind direction, in strong winds.”
“We’re trying to have the turbine blades be more aligned along the load path, so we can get away with lower structural mass and have less fatigue and less damage,” said Eric Loth, chair of the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia and the SUMR project lead.
The research team believes the downwind design will make it possible to deploy extreme-scale offshore wind turbines in parts of the United States, such as the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, where wind speeds can reach 200 mph during severe storms.
The research is funded through a three-year, $3.56 million grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) of the U.S. Department of Energy.
The research team meets regularly with an industry advisory board that includes representatives from major turbine makers such as GE, Siemens and Vestas, notes GTM.
Electric road for mobile EV charging launched in Sweden
April 18, 2018
The government-backed project is still at an early stage, and so far comprises just 2km of one public road, where an electric rail has been installed in the middle of one driving lane.
“But the eRoadArlanda consortium behind the project argue that it holds considerable promise as a relatively cheap and easy solution to the niggling problems of EV cost and range anxiety, by allowing manufacturers to reduce battery size”, writes Sophie Vorrath of Reneweconomy.
Vorrath notes the technology itself is fairly simple: “a moveable arm, fitted to the bottom of the EV, delivers the electric charge when it connects with a metal rail embedded into the road – a bit like the mechanism used to propel toy slot cars. When the vehicle moves away from its lane, the arm is automatically retracted. The technology can also calculate the amount of energy each car has consumed and debit it to the appropriate vehicle and user.”
According to Vorrath, “at a cost of €1 million per kilometre, the cost of rolling out the technology to more of Sweden’s roads and highways, and to the EV-driving public, is estimated to be 50 times lower than that required to construct an urban tram line. It is also believed to be easier and cheaper to install – on both roads and cars – than charging by induction, or the overhead wire system Sweden experimented with two years ago.
Hans Säll, chief executive of the eRoadArlanda consortium, said existing vehicles and roadways both could be adapted to use the technology. But the roll-out on the nation’s roads would mostly be restricted to its highways.
“If we electrify 20,000km of highways that will definitely be be enough,” he told the Guardian. “The distance between two highways is never more than 45km and electric cars can already travel that distance without needing to be recharged. Some believe it would be enough to electrify 5,000km.”
The Swedish government is said to be in talks with Berlin about a future network.
Solar beats wind in German technology-neutral tender
April 18, 2018
In February, Germany has for the first time held a technology-neutral renewable energy tender. The result: only solar projects won. The wind projects all turned out to be more expensive.
Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNA) reports that in the 200 megawatt (MW) auction in February, solar projects won all 32 contracts at values ranging from €39.60/MWh to €57.60/MWh.
According to WindPower Monthly, both solar and wind industry associations in Germany were unhappy with the results and branded the auction a “failure”.
The heads of the Federal Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) and the German Wind Energy Association (BWE) described joint tenders as “unsuitable” for encouraging the build-out of the two technologies, notes WindPower Monthly.
BSW-Solar and the BWE cited “analysis by the German Weather Service (DWD), which showed a combination of the two technologies can stabilise the production of electricity from renewable energy.”
“Pitting two most important pillars of our future energy system against each other is inefficient and not effective. Instead, we need an intelligent mix of the two technologies,” said BWE president Herman Albers.
His counterpart at BSW-Solar, Carsten Körnig, said: “We are happy for the many solar winners, but consider the experiment a failure. The auction results prove the excellent price-performance ratio of new solar power plants, but not the suitability of joint tenders.”
The average volume-weighted aggregate value of the 32 successful solar projects was €46.70/MWh — slightly more than the average price of €43.30/MWh in the last purely solar tender.
Wind power bids, meanwhile, had a volume-weighted average of €72.30/MWh.
The tender was nearly twice oversubscribed, with the BNA receiving bids totalling 395MW for just 200MW of available capacity.
The next onshore wind energy auction is on 1 May 2018, while the next solar tender is scheduled for 1 June 2018.
Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) requires two joint onshore wind and solar auctions per year between 2018 and 2021. This pilot phase will then be evaluated before the government decides whether to continue with the joint tenders beyond 2021.
EU energy-intensive industry “paid to pollute”
April 18, 2018
The EU’s energy-intensive industry is “paid to pollute rather than to decarbonize”, charges a new report from NGO Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, called “European Fat Cats”.
According to the report, energy intensive industry sectors “have been among the slowest in the European Union (EU) to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and invest in solutions to decarbonise and maintain technological leadership.”
“Instead, these sectors have been putting a break on more ambitious climate policy, benefitting from watered down regulation, soft tax deals and preferential pricing. Their efforts to preserve unrivalled privileges have pushed the cost of dealing with climate change onto the rest of society.”
There are two main ways in which the energy-intensive industry is supported, notes CAN Europe:
- Rather than paying for its pollution under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), energy intensive industry is able to make a cash-grab through a combination of exceptions under the scheme. A blatant example are the windfall profits from excess emission allowances that industry actors initially received for free amounting to over €25 billion during 2008-2015. At the same time, EU governments missed out on €143 billion in revenue due to free allocation of pollution permits during the same period of time. Even after a recent reform, the EU ETS will continue to issue free allowances to energy intensive industry sectors which means that public revenues amounting to around €380 billion will be foregone by EU governments between 2008 and 2030.
- Energy intensive industry receives extremely generous tax breaks. For example in Germany, households pay nearly twice as much for their electricity as energy intensive industry sectors with total financial gains from tax schemes amounting to over €17 billion in 2016, roughly the same as the 2017 German federal budget for research and education.
On top of this, European governments also “still provide nearly €15 billion of fiscal support that encourages consumption of fossil fuels in industry and business each year.”
As a result of these policies, European energy intensive industry has “little incentive to innovate and decarbonise”, notes the report. “It is falling behind competitors in other regions, like China, who are investing heavily in innovation and the upgrade of their industry and starting to compete in high value segments formerly led by European industry.”
CAN Europe dismisses the idea that European industry has to be protected against carbon leakage (i.e. relocation to countries with less stringent climate policies). “Studies have found no evidence of leakage In fact, European energy intensive industry pays less for electricity than many competitors, for instance German energy intensive sectors pay roughly 25% less for electricity than the same sectors do in China.”
CAN Europe urges the EU to “rethink its current industrial approach” and adopt a package of measures, not just the ETS, for an “ambitious decarbonization of energy-intensive industries”.