Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The future of Biofuels


In China, India, Brazil and Europe, economic and environmental security concerns are giving birth to new government targets and incentives, aimed at reducing petroleum imports and increasing the consumption and production of renewable fuels. Over the next ten years, however, investors in traditional ethanol facilities will face the inevitable prospects of increased ethanol imports, non-food crops for feedstocks, and the imminent maturation of cellulosic ethanol as a competitive ethanol fuel.

"The global market for ethanol faces enormous opportunities and transitional challenges over the next ten years. A few issues hold the key to understanding the transitional nature of these challenges and identifying the best prospects for long-term growth opportunities," said William Thurmond, author of Ethanol 2020: A Global Market Survey.

Thurmond's study, which is being released today at the 23rd International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in St. Louis, Missouri, by Emerging Markets Online, provides an analysis and review of major ethanol markets, leading producers, feed stock price trends, import-export trends, government targets as well as challenges and opportunities worldwide.

The report reviews biofuels initiatives world-wide, including Bush's new "20% biofuels by 2017" re-vision of the U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard; the European Union's proposed "20 by 20" program to replace 20% of transportation fuels with renewable fuels; and national biofuels target goals and programs for Brazil, China, India, the U.S. and Europe.
"If the promises of competitive, large-scale cellulosic ethanol production are realized, and if nationalist import/export policies for biofuels are further liberalized, then the possibilities for ethanol to replace 20% of gasoline consumption in the U.S., China and India may be realized by the year 2020," noted Thurmond.

The First, Second & Third GenerationEthanol 2020 identifies three transitional generations of biofuels emerging in the next ten years. The first generation, or 1G, according to Thurmond, is based on traditional domestic production, economics and feedstocks—generally grown and sold near geographically agricultural areas.

The second generation, or 2G, is based on the increasing transition of ethanol production facilities from traditional agricultural areas to new areas in coastal regions in order to take advantage of import, export, multi-feedstock and refinery co-location advantages.
In addition, this second phase addresses the food versus fuel debate, supported by emerging trends in increased production and consumption of non-corn and non-food fuel crops such as sorghum and switchgrass.

This is also true for biodiesel, where non-food feedstocks such as algae and jatropha produce significantly higher returns per acre, and do not compromise food supplies or stimulate higher food prices.

Ethanol 2020 observes the third generation, or 3G, is based on emerging technologies and production processes such as cellulosic ethanol, biobutanol, and dimethylfuran that promise higher fuel production and investment returns per acre at lower costs.

The upside to 2G and 3G transitions, the study speculates, is they provide answers and solutions to current problems with rising feedstock costs, energy infrastructure integration issues, the food vs. fuel debate, and eventual price relief for consumers at the pump. During these transitions, new opportunities will emerge for ethanol investors, and new technological processes will improve the present production facilities of today and help alleviate concerns of ROI and stranded costs.

"As these transitions occur, we expect to see an increasing amount of cognitive dissonance and political debate between established ethanol producers, the emerging 2G/3G investors and stakeholders, policy officials and analysts," said Thurmond.
"Moreover, these transitional trends and technologies are likely to be critical to the success of government biofuels programs world-wide with ambitious ethanol production targets. Although growing pains will occur, the emergence of 2G and 3G ethanol will help overcome many of the present limitations of agricultural, commercial and technological ethanol production," he concluded.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

China's Plans for Renewable Energy


In the June 2007 issue of the China Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development Report from Lou Schwartz, recent developments in renewable energies in China offer insight into that country's burgeoning challenges between population, energy and the environment.

The report cites that the "Persistent rural poverty in China and periodic power shortages all have impressed upon Beijing that renewable energy must be a large part of China's economy if China is to both complete its economic transformation and achieve energy security.""Between 2005 and 2030, China will account for 23% of the world's investment in power, spending $1.2 trillion U.S.D. in that period," Schwartz notes. "China's ambitious growth target for renewable energy production will require an investment of approximately 800 billion Yuan (~$100 billion U.S.D.) by 2020. In the long term China has set an objective of having 30% or more of its total energy requirements satisfied by renewable sources by 2050."

Current business opportunities, foreign participation, relevant conferences, and production and consumption are also discussed in this month's China Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development Report.

The in-depth report examines developments across China's renewable energy industry, as seen in these excerpts:

- Solar: "The Chinese government has recently announced that large new buildings will all utilize photovoltaic power generating technology."

- Wind: "Researchers at the Jiangsu Province Macroeconomic Research Institute have advocated that large-scale wind power should be directly used to provide electric power to industries, which are large consumers of power."

- Hydropower: "In 2007 there will be another 500 MW of small to medium sized hydroelectric power generating capacity constructed in Guangxi Province."

- Biomass, Biofuels: "China hasn't yet standardized its macro-economic policies with respect to the bio-diesel industry, but it is now formulating and will soon..."

- Laws and Policies: "These sets of issues include the fact that there are more than 10 million Chinese who do not have access to electric power and the often-spotty access to power among tens of millions of other rural Chinese."
Ref: renewableenergyaccess.com

Thursday, June 21, 2007

China Overtakes U.S as top CO2 Emitter


China has overtaken the United States as the top emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, because of surging energy use amid an economic boom, a Dutch government-funded agency said on Wednesday.

Other experts have estimated that China will only surpass the United States in coming years. The rise to number one emitter may put pressure on Beijing to do more to help a U.N.-led fight against global warming.

"China's 2006 carbon dioxide emissions surpassed those of the United States by 8 percent," the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said in a statement. In 2005, it said China's emissions were 2 percent below those of the United States.

"With this, China tops the list of CO2 emitting countries for the first time," it said. Almost all scientists say rising amounts of carbon dioxide will bring more droughts, floods, desertification, heatwaves, disease and rising seas.

The report, based on data on energy use and cement production, reckoned China's carbon dioxide emissions totaled 6.2 billion metric tons in 2006. Of the total, 550 million tons was from cement, a main source of industrial emissions.

U.S. emissions totaled 5.8 billion metric tons last year, of which 50 million tons was from cement, it said. The report said the European Union was in third place on the ranking ahead of Russia, India and Japan.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises rich nations, said in April China was likely to surpass the United States as the top carbon dioxide emitter in 2007 or 2008.

The Dutch agency said its data were based on fossil fuel use estimated by BP, cement data from the U.S. Geological Survey and energy use data until 2004 from the IEA. Carbon dioxide accounts for about 75 percent of greenhouse gases.

China's economy has registered double-digit growth for four years in a row and expanded by 11.1 percent in the first quarter compared to a year earlier due to booming investments and exports. China and other major developing nations have promised to do their "fair share" to curb greenhouse gases but say it is too early to talk of caps or cuts when rising energy use is key to helping hundreds of millions of people escape poverty.

Developing nations say countries with the highest per capita emissions should show the way. U.S. President George W. Bush has said China and other developing nation must do more.
With a population of 1.3 billion, China's per capita emissions are a quarter of those in the United States, with 300 million people.

The Group of Eight leading industrial nations agreed at a summit in early June to make "substantial cuts" in emissions and to try to work out a global treaty by 2009 to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto binds 35 rich nations to cut emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

Testing & Certfication for Small Wind Turbines


There is a pressing need for an international center to test and demonstrate small wind turbines. In contrast to the medium-sized wind turbine industry, which is nearing technical maturity, small wind turbines are still plagued by high costs and poor reliability.

The reasons are many. Most significantly, small wind turbines are designed and manufactured by small companies with limited funds for product testing and improvement. As a result, nearly all small wind turbines have been introduced to the market with limited field testing.

Small wind turbine manufacturers have essentially used their customers to test their products. This system is extremely unsatisfactory and leads to dissatisfied customers and the widespread, but unfortunately well-deserved reputation that small wind turbines are unreliable. It is also retards the refinement of small wind turbine designs by limiting the feedback that manufacturers receive about how their products perform in the field.

A professionally administered international test center that could provide testing for free or only a nominal fee would offer small wind turbine manufacturers an opportunity to test their products and to gain useful feedback about performance and reliability, enabling them to improve their products.

The Small Wind Turbine Industry

There are more than 50 different manufacturers of small wind turbines worldwide, not including those in China. These manufacturers build more than 125 different models of small wind turbines. Most if not all of these products have had repeated problems with mechanical and electrical reliability in actual use. Nearly all of these manufacturers are small with limited financial resources. The industry is very unstable and product development is often simply a matter of trying to correct defects that have appeared after the product was introduced.
Small wind companies have set ambitious growth targets continuing at 18-21% over next five years, with 2010 global annual sales potentials reaching $110M under ideal market and policy conditions. AWEA’s(American Wind Energy Society’s) Small Wind Industry Market Study documented in 2005 says about domestic and international sales forecasts of nearly 13,000 small wind systems (up to 100 kW) totalling nearly 14 MW of installed capacity and $25 million in sales. Their study says that more than $105M in SWT sales since 1990, plus targets for nearly $220M over the next five years.

Small Wind Turbine Test Centers

There are several research sites in developed countries that test small wind turbines. At most of these sites the emphasis is on testing medium-sized wind turbines and the testing of small wind turbines is of little importance.

North Atlantic Wind Test Site: Tests medium-sized wind turbines for use in wind-diesel systems. NAWTS performs competent work but operates on a limited budget.

Alternative Energy Institute, West Texas A&M University: Tests both small wind medium-sized wind turbines mostly for private clients. The test field is only moderately active and AEI does not issue public reports for its private clients.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Rocky Flats test center: Well funded but cumbersome administration limits it usefulness. Tests mostly medium-sized wind turbines. The test center is a poor wind site and NREL is notorious for issuing reports years after tests are completed. NREL does not issue reports on tests for its private clients.

National Engineering Laboratory: Like NREL at Rocky Flats, NEL does not issue public reports on tests for its private clients. NEL has performed limited tests on small British and French wind turbines.

Deutsches Windenergie Institut: DEWI performs tests for private clients at is site near Wilhelmshaven. These reports are not public.

Chateau Lastours: The test field for French small wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet is in the foothills of the Pyrennes in Southern France. Like the national laboratories in Germany, Scotland, and the USA, test results from Lastours for private clients, such as Vergnet, are not published.

Folkecenter for Vedvarende Energi: Operates a number of small wind turbines at its test field in northwest Jutland. Like its counterparts elsewhere, the Folkecenter does not publish reports prepared for its private clients. Most of the Folkecenter's turbines are in a poor state of repair and little or no data is being collected on their operation. However, the Folkecenter does encourage visitors and interns who can stay in their hostel-like dormitory. The test field is in a very windy location near the North Sea and is a good site for testing reliability. Some products survive for only a few months.

CIEMAT's Soria test field: Relatively new Spanish test field north of Madrid has yet to establish itself. However, initial work by Ignacio Cruz on the poor performance of small wind turbines relative to commercial medium-size turbines is promising. His presentation at the EWEC special topic conference in Kassel, Germany in September, 2000 was the most thorough -- and critical -- evaluation of the small turbine industry yet published.

C-Wet, Chennai, India: This is also a relatively new Test Cenre for Small Wind Energy in India. Interestingly C-Wet has been testing bigger Wind Machines for the last 10 years.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How Heat pumps utilising Geothermal Energy works


On a summer day, if you go down into a cave, you'll feel the earth's coolness. Under the ground, the earth maintains a 55- to 58-degree temperature. It stays this temperature all winter, too.

Geothermal heating finds a way to deliver the earth's coolness into your home in summer. In winter, it delivers heat. In the most basic sense, it transfers heat from the ground to your home.

To install a geothermal system, contractors would drill or dig into the ground in your backyard, and lay flexible pipes in a loop. The pipes are filled with a mixture of water and environmentally-friendly antifreeze.

The closed loop of pipes are hooked up to a heat pump inside your utility room. A flow center in the system keeps the liquid constantly moving through the pipes. It keeps recirculating, and we keep taking heat from the ground. The heat is transferred from the ground to the liquid, and the heat pump pulls the heat from the liquid."

Even though the earth's temperature measures only 55 degrees, contractors can easily design a geothermal system with enough capacity to keep a home at a toasty 72 degrees, or warmer, on a zero-degree day in January.

Some homeowners like to buy a system with a lot of capacity to keep it very warm on very cold days. It's more economical, however, to install a system with just enough capacity for the house and use an auxiliary electric heat coil for bitterly cold days.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tidal Energy System for Demonstration in U.K


M/s Marine Current Turbines will install its SeaGen commercial tidal energy system and it will begin operation during the week of August 20th in Northern Ireland's Strangford Lough marine nature reserve. According to the company, the 1.2 megawatt (MW) capacity system will be the world's largest ever tidal current device once connected to the grid.


A commercial demonstration project with permission to operate in Strangford Lough for a period of up to 5 years, the installation of SeaGen this summer represents Phase 2 in a three-part company plan to develop full-scale commercial tidal farms.


"We will build on the success of SeaGen to develop a commercial tidal farm, of up to 10 MW in UK waters, within the next three years. With the right funding and regulatory framework, we believe we can realistically achieve up to 500 MW of tidal capacity by 2015 based on this new SeaGen technology," said Martin Wright, managing director of Marine Current Turbines.
Future turbines, which will generally be rated at from 750 to 1500 kilowatts (kW) per unit (depending on the local flow pattern and peak velocity), will be grouped under the sea, at places with high currents, in much the same way that wind turbines in a wind farm are set out in rows to catch the wind.


"SeaGen's installation is a very significant milestone for both Marine Current Turbines and the emerging marine energy," added Wright. "Following our previous experience with SeaFlow, our 300 kW experimental test system installed in 2003 off the north Devon coast, we are confident that SeaGen will show that tidal energy can be truly competitive with other forms of power generation. Decentralized tidal current energy is fundamentally predictable and sustainable."
The SeaGen 1.2 MW Commercial demonstrator consists of twin axial flow rotors, 15m to 20m in diameter, mounted on wing-like extensions on either side of a tubular steel monopile approximately three meters in diameter and set into a hole drilled into the seabed.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Global Warming is accelerating than expected


Global warming is accelerating three times more quickly than feared, a series of startling, authoritative studies has revealed.

They have found that emissions of carbon dioxide have been rising at thrice the rate in the 1990s. The Arctic ice cap is melting three times as fast - and the seas are rising twice as rapidly - as had been predicted.

News of the studies - which are bound to lead to calls for even tougher anti-pollution measures than have yet been contemplated - comes as the leaders of the world's most powerful nations prepare for the most crucial meeting yet on tackling climate change.

The issue will be top of the agenda of the G8 summit which opens in the German Baltic resort of Heiligendamm on Wednesday, placing unprecedented pressure on President George Bush finally to agree to international measures.

Yesterday, there were violent clashes in the city harbour of Rostock between police and demonstrators, during a largely peaceful march of tens of thousands of people protesting against the summit.

The study, published by the US National Academy of Sciences, shows that carbon dioxide emissions have been increasing by about 3 per cent a year during this decade, compared with 1.1 per cent a year in the 1990s.

The significance is that this is much faster than even the highest scenario outlined in this year's massive reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - and suggests that their dire forecasts of devastating harvests, dwindling water supplies, melting ice and loss of species are likely to be understating the threat facing the world.

The study found that nearly three-quarters of the growth in emissions came from developing countries, with a particularly rapid rise in China. The country, however, will resist being blamed for the problem, pointing out that its people on average still contribute only about a sixth of the carbon dioxide emitted by each American. And, the study shows, developed countries, with less than a sixth of the world's people, still contribute more than two-thirds of total emissions of the greenhouse gas.

On the ground, a study by the University of California's National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that Arctic ice has declined by 7.8 per cent a decade over the past 50 years, compared with an average estimate by IPCC computer models of 2.5 per cent.

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