Scotland’s One & Only Tidal Power Generator Now Providing Electricity to Eday Island

An underwater turbine that is set to be used in Scotland’s first and only consented tidal power project has successfully completed an initial testing period in Orkney, and is providing electricity for homes and businesses on the island of Eday, one of Orkney’s northern isles.

The 1MW power generator was installed last December, in some of the worst weather conditions Scotland has experienced in more than a decade, and has since been undergoing a range of tests in the fast flowing tidal waters around Orkney. The initial testing period has been very positive with the device achieving full export power.

The test device in Orkney aims to fully prove that the technology can operate efficiently in Scotland’s fast flowing tides, that monitoring and maintenance operations can be honed and to help drive down costs in operations and installation. ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) plan to use this technology as part of the world’s first tidal turbine array in the Sound of Islay. The company’s plans to develop a 10MW tidal array in Islay received planning consent from the Scottish Government in March 2011.

Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower Renewables said: “The concept of generating electricity from the natural movement of the tide is still relatively new – and test projects like this are vital to help us understand how we can fully realise the potential of this substantial energy source.

“The performance of the first HS1000 device has given us great confidence so far. Engineers were able install the device during atrocious weather conditions, and it has been operating to a very high standard ever since. We have already greatly developed our understanding of tidal power generation, and this gives us confidence ahead of implementing larger scale projects in Islay and the Pentland Firth.

“Scotland has the best tidal power resources in Europe, and that’s why we are seeing world leading technologies tested here. This device is already providing renewable electricity for Orkney, but the potential is there in our waters to make a significant contribution towards our overall energy needs and our carbon reduction targets.”

The HS1000 tidal turbine has been developed by ANDRITZ HYDRO Hammerfest, whose majority shareholder is Andritz Hydro, and also includes partners Iberdrola and Hammerfest Energi. The 1MW machine can power the annual electricity needs of 500 homes.

Seen as one of the world’s most advanced tidal turbine designs, a prototype device has been generating electricity in Norway for over 6 years. The design is based on a mixture of technology used in traditional onshore wind turbines, subsea oil & gas production and in hydro-power plants.

The turbine can be monitored from the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) base in Eday, but engineers can also operate and inspect the device from Glasgow using mobile connections and an on-board camera.

Stein Atle Andersen, Managing Director of ANDRITZ HYDRO Hammerfest said: “The 1MW pre-commercial device is an important step in our staged strategy for developing reliable and cost efficient tidal energy converting devices and power plants. The tests being carried out so far have confirmed the design basis for the technology and given comfort concerning the device’s capacity.”

“We are still early in the testing programme with endurance, availability and reliability being the most imminent factors for asserting a proper basis for developing commercial tidal energy power plants. However, we are already well into design engineering for the first power plant.”

“In total we believe this is an important step forward for the industry in general by demonstrating that commercial size developments are feasible.”

Source: ScottishPower Renewables

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Low-Income Households in Colorado Going Solar

30 low-income households in northeast Denver, Colorado are going solar thanks to a partnership between Northeast Denver Housing Center (NDHC), Del Norte Neighborhood Corporation, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Bella Energy, Groundwork Denver, and the Governor’s Energy Office of Colorado. Good news! Here’s more from NREL:

Until recently, the low-income housing community has been a tough nut for the solar industry to crack.

Low-income housing developments have historically avoided going solar due to the obvious difficulties of incorporating high-cost, discretionary photovoltaic (PV) systems into affordable housing. However, a unique mix of local, utility, and federal support combined with a little financial creativity allowed a community in Colorado to demonstrate the application of PV into a low-income housing program.

Here’s how it worked.

Figure 1. Solar PV and a low-income housing development in Denver, Colorado [1]

It Takes a Village

In northeast Denver, Colorado, a partnership of community stakeholders came together to pilot the first U.S. low-income housing project to take on solar. The partnership itself was a large and diverse collaboration of various interests groups. No less than six organizations were involved in the effort, including:

  • Northeast Denver Housing Center (NDHC)
  • Del Norte Neighborhood Corporation
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Bella Energy
  • Groundwork Denver
  • Governor’s Energy Office of Colorado.

Collectively, these organizations put the pieces together to develop the Whittier Affordable Housing Project (WAHP). Within WAHP, 30 affordable housing rentals across 12 buildings received residential-scale solar PV systems [1]. Figure 1 shows three of these systems.

One of the key enabling factors of the low-income solar housing is also evident in Figure 1; each of the housing units selected in the program is smaller than the average American home and has undergone recent energy efficiency retrofits (e.g., insulation, lighting, and building envelope improvements). Because of these small and energy efficient housing characteristics, the WAHP program was able to utilize relatively small 1.88-kW systems to offset approximately 85% of the occupant’s energy usage. The small size of the individual systems allowed for a greater number of system installations across WAHP [1].

The Financing Puzzle with One Wildcard

Like most renewable energy financing arrangements, the partnership utilized any and all available revenue streams to have the PV system’s economics pencil out. First, the project was set up for the first six years as a third-party financing mechanism, where a private tax-paying investor owns the PV system to take advantage of the federal 30% investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation benefits. Second, WAHP received a $2/Watt upfront cash incentive from the local utility Xcel Energy that significantly bought down the cost of the PV systems. Xcel also agreed to purchase the renewable energy certificates (RECs) at a healthy $0.11/kWh for the first 20 years of the project’s operation. Additionally, the low-income housing residents paid $0.08/kWh for the energy produced by the PV systems. By comparison, the average electric rate for NDHC residents was $0.95/kWh, thus the PV is projected to save NDHC money over the course of the 20-year contract period.

Even with these large revenue streams, there was one more puzzle piece required to complete the financing [1]. NDHC was successful in applying for a $107,500 grant from the Governor’s Energy Office of Colorado to finance the project. The NDHC award was immediately loaned to the investor to provide the final revenue piece to make the project viable. The investor, in turn, repays the loan with interest to NDHC over six years. At year seven of the project, NDHC will buy out the investor using the loan and interest repayments and will own the low-income solar project [1]. Figure 2 illustrates the lifetime cash flows between the investor and NDHC.

Figure 2. Lifetime cashflows of Whittier Affordable Housing Project [1]

Good for the Goose and for the Gander

Although not all tenants in NDHC received PV systems on their rooftops, WAHP program designers also implemented several community-wide programs to broaden the overall appeal.  First, a PV installation training and education program was created for low-income residents. From this training program, several community residents were hired by a local PV installer. Second, a neighborhood-wide energy conservation incentive program was established and funded through savings from the PV installation [1]. Lastly, the community was able to showcase its program as a first-of-a-kind in the nation with successful implementation.

Despite WAHP’s use of the one-time grant to fully fund the program, it was intended for the model to be a roadmap for other communities to follow. Since the development of WAHP, there have been sizable reductions in both renewable energy subsidies as well as PV system prices. Therefore, other communities will need to customize their program to take advantage of local financial strengths and resources, but WAHP demonstrates the successful application of PV to all income classes.

Resources:

[1] Dean, J.; Smith-Drier, C.; Mekonnen, G.; Hawthorne, W. “Integrating Photovoltaic Systems into Low-Income Housing Developments: A Case Study on the Creation of a New Residential Financing Model and Low-Income Resident Job Training Program,” September 2011. Accessed April 23, 2012.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1cem7)

Hydrogen — Tomorrow’s Biofuel?

Questions swirl around the idea of bioethanol as an alternative to gasoline for powering transport, but researchers from the University of Birmingham have started creating clean hydrogen from food waste, an idea that could revolutionise the bioenergy industry.

A look at Brazil — the world’s most intensive user of bioethanol — finds that mass-producing bioethanol from sugarcane is not as sustainable in the long-term as would be hoped. Bioethanol generates carbon dioxide as well as agricultural waste.

However, creating clean hydrogen from food waste not only uses up that waste, but provides a fuel that is emissions free and can be generated sustainably.

“Fuel cells need clean energy to run them. If you provide bacteria with a supply of sugary waste from, for example, chocolate production, the bacteria can produce hydrogen,” said Professor Lynne Macaskie, Professor of Applied Microbiology at the University of Birmingham, who presented the research at a collaborative bioenergy workshop in São Paulo on Monday. “At the moment manufacturers pay to dispose of waste but with our technique they could convert it to clean electricity instead.”

“Bioethanol is the current biofuel of choice in Brazil but our research shows the huge potential for biohydrogen to be the fuel for the future. Biohydrogen could even be made from the wastes from bioethanol production — two biofuels for the price of one. More work from focused teams, however, is needed, as agricultural wastes are tougher for bacteria to digest.”

Source: University of Birmingham

Sunny Delight CNG Fleet to Cut 400,000 Gallons of Diesel

Sunny Delight Beverages has put into service a fleet of three compressed natural gas vehicles for distribution in southern California, in markets including Los Angeles, Mira Loma, Carson and Riverside.

The move is expected to cut about 400,000 gallons of diesel fuel in 2012, and to cut well-to-wheel greenhouse gas by 23 percent versus diesel-powered engines.

Transportation management and logistics provider Transplace said that it executed a transportation plan that focused on keeping costs down for the beverage manufacturer. The companies have a five-year arrangement. Transplace manages the carriers and the fueling options within the network, and Glacier Transportation deployed the fleet.

A number of companies are testing a transition to CNG fleets. In January, AT&T ordered 1,200 Chevrolet Express CNG cargo vans for delivery to its service centers nationwide, in General Motors’ largest ever order of CNG vehicles. Refuse collection firm Waste Management announced a pilot program across four states to introduce natural-gas powered Rotopress waste collection trailers.

Also, Veolia ES Solid Waste revved up Indiana’s first fleet of CNG powered refuse trucks in April.

We can save you hundreds of thousands as well. Want a CNG fueling facility? Let us know  – CNG@FenleyNicol.com
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First national pay-as-you-go EV charging network goes live

Electric car drivers could soon be able to charge their vehicles without signing up to different membership schemes for different regions, following the launch today of the UK’s first pay-as-you-go charging network.

London-based electric car charging company POD Point aims to have around 620 chargers nationwide freely available on a pay-as-you-go basis by the end of 2012, with a view to more than trebling the size of the network to 2,000 charge points by the end of the following year.

The company said it wants to do away with the current situation where drivers may find it difficult to charge their vehicle outside their local area if they do not subscribe to a charging scheme in a particular region.

A company spokesman toldBusinessGreen that the new system would rely on charge cards to begin with, but POD Point envisages new forms of payments such as SMS or smartphone apps becoming quickly available.

He added that POD Point is open to working with other charging networks and is currently in negotiations with charge point providers about integrating its pay-as-you-go model with their services.

“We are looking to create an open network by trying to join up disparate infrastructure,” he said, adding that the company was hoping to reach at least half of all electric vehicle drivers over the next few years. “We’re aiming to make this as wide a network as possible.”

POD Point is Europe’s largest electric vehicle charge point supplier, having now shipped over 2,500 wall-mounted and street charge point units, and is the approved supplier for Toyota dealers throughout the EU.

The POD Point Network follows last year’s launch of the POLAR scheme, operated by Chargemaster, which aims to fit 4,000 charging points across the UK’s 100 largest towns and cities by the end of 2012 to create the country’s largest charging network.

The news also comes on the same day as Chargemaster announced POLAR will add 64 charge points across Oxford and the surrounding area, transforming the city into one of the EV capitals of Europe.

Following the rollout, Oxford residents will have one charge point between every 2,391 citizens, compared to 4,029 in Amsterdam, 4,803 in Paris and 11,927 in London.

There are already more electric car chargers than petrol stations in Oxford and another 50 chargers are expected to be added in the next 12 months, including a number of fast-charge points, while a further 100 charging points are available within 40 minutes’ drive.

In addition, Chargemaster has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hertz to launch an electric car sharing club in Oxford, which would see 10 electric Nissan LEAFs made available to book online for rental by the hour, day or week. The cars are likely to be situated in university campuses, street locations, local car parks, major employers’ car parks, and other strategic locations across the city and surrounding areas.

Source = Business Green

Adventurer to cross Africa in electric post van

Electric Post Van

A man is attempting to drive an electric van from Nairobi to Johannesburg to highlight the reliability of zero carbon vehicles under extreme conditions.

Adventurer and English teacher Xavier Chevrin set off on the UN-backed 4,800km trip at the end of last week, two years after driving from Shanghai to Paris – the longest ever journey made in an electric car.

Chevrin will spend a month and a half battling through the bush of Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa in a souped-up version of a French electric postal van. The Citroen Berlingo has three batteries as opposed to the regular single issue, as well as raised suspension to cope with bumpy roads.

The modifications enable the van to cover 500km without recharging the battery, which takes seven hours from empty using a standard 240V socket. But the car has no back-up generator so Chevrin will be reliant on local electricity infrastructure to complete the journey.

The aim is demonstrate that electric cars are not only cheaper to run – the Shanghai-Paris trip cost less than $200 in electricity instead of $4,000 worth of diesel – but also better for the environment.

According to a forthcoming report by the UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP), the current fossil-fuel based transport system accounts for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions and this figure is expected to rise to almost a third in the coming decades.

“We have been using combustion engines for over a century, but now it is a new revolution,” Chevrin said. “Within a few decades it will be logical for everyone to have an electric car as it fits with the philosophy of having to be careful how we use energy.

“We want to prove that electricity is an alternative energy source that can be used for transportation.”

Source = Business Green

UK’s Largest Community Wind Farm Takes New Step Forward

The largest community-owned wind farm project in the UK took an important step towards becoming reality this week, after the trust working on the scheme formally lodged a planning application with Bolsover District Council.

Roseland Community Energy Trust announced that it had filed a planning application for the £19m project, which if approved will see six wind turbines erected on a 450-acre site leased from The Chatsworth Estate.

Speaking to BusinessGreen, the trust’s director John Hudson said that the group had spent three years developing the plans and engaging with the local community and remained confident that the project can secure planning approval.

“We have three factors in our favour: we have good community support for the project, the Localism Bill makes local community benefits a material factor in planning decisions, and changes to planning laws make it more likely that community-owned projects will be consented,” he said.

Hudson acknowledged there was some local opposition to the plans, but stressed that as a community-owned project Roseland had a better chance of engaging with critics and would also ensure that the financial benefits that arise from the scheme would go to the entire community, including those opposed to the project.

If the project is approved, the trust will seek to raise the £19m of capital it requires from banks and a number of green investment bodies.

Hudson said early site assessments and negotiations with potential investors and energy purchasers confirmed that the wind farm could generate annual profits of over £750,000 a year, which would then be distributed through a Local Enterprise Organisation and Community Voluntary Partners.

The groups have drawn up a plan for utilising the revenue from the wind farm, which could see them provide advisory support for local start-ups, undertake refurbishments of local buildings and facilities, install renewable energy technologies at people’s homes, provide re-training for the unemployed, and fund university places for local children.

The Trust is hoping that it can gain planning approval by the end of the year, allowing it to begin construction work and start delivering power and income before the end of 2013.

Hudson said that if successful the Trust would aim to provide a template for other community groups to follow, offering advice on how to develop successful plans and raise the capital to support community-owned projects.

The Roseland wind farm is the latest in a series of community owned projects to emerge in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the Bristol Energy Co-Operative launched a share issue  designed to raise £90,000 for two local solar projects, while a similar £200,000 issue is due to be launched by the Brighton Energy Co-operative next week.

Source = Business Green