Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Breakthrough in capturing Carbon Dioxide

In research conducted at the U of C, Keith and a team of researchers showed it is possible to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming – using a relatively simple machine that can capture the trace amount of CO2 present in the air at any place on the planet.

"At first thought, capturing CO2 from the air where it's at a concentration of 0.04 per cent seems absurd, when we are just starting to do cost-effective capture at power plants where CO2 produced is at a concentration of more than 10 per cent," says Keith, Canada Research Chair in Energy and Environment.

"But the thermodynamics suggests that air capture might only be a bit harder than capturing CO2 from power plants. We are trying to turn that theory into engineering reality."
The research is significant because air capture technology is the only way to capture CO2 emissions from transportation sources such as vehicles and airplanes. These so-called diffuse sources represent more than half of the greenhouse gases emitted on Earth.

"The climate problem is too big to solve easily with the tools we have," notes Keith, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy's (ISEEE) Energy and Environmental Systems Group and a professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.
"David Keith and his team have developed a number of innovative ways to achieve the efficient capture of atmospheric carbon. That is a major step in advancing air capture as a solution to a very pressing problem," Layzell says.

Air capture is different than the carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology which is a key part of the Alberta and federal governments' strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CCS involves installing equipment at, for example, a coal-fired power plant to capture carbon dioxide produced during burning of the coal, and then pipelining this CO2 for permanent storage underground in a geological reservoir.

Air capture, on the other hand, uses technology that can capture – no matter where the capture system is located – the CO2 that is present in ambient air everywhere.

Nevertheless, the relatively simple, reliable and scalable technology that Keith and his team developed opens the door to building a commercial-scale plant.

Technical details of the air capture technology are available at: http://www.ucalgary.ca/~keith/AirCapture.html

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First commercial Wave Farm in Portugal

The beach at Agucadoura, just north of Porto, is where electricity from the world's first wave farm is being cabled ashore. Five kilometres out to sea a Pelamis wave machine is gently riding the Atlantic swell, generating power for the Portuguese grid.

The wave farm has just been officially launched after a frustrating delay of more than a year. "We had an issue with the underwater connections", explains engineering manager, Ross Henderson. He is sitting with me in the beachfront substation which takes in the power. "I can't believe such a small thing cost the project a whole year."

The implementation

To understand the engineering problem, you have to appreciate how the wave machines work. Pelamis is an ancient word for sea snake. And it is true that the machines look like giant metal snakes floating in the water.

Each one has four long sections with three "power modules" hinged between them. There are large hydraulic rams sticking into the modules. As the long sections twist and turn in the waves they pull the rams in and out of the modules like pistons.
The huge force of the rams is harnessed to run generators in the power modules. But tethering the snakes to the seabed is a major challenge. The system has to be able to cope with the worst sea conditions.

Pelamis Wave Power developed an underwater plug, which floats 15 to 20 metres below the surface. The snakes can be attached in one movement without any help from divers. But when the system was installed off Portugal in slightly deeper water than engineers were used to, the plug wouldn't float properly. The foam keeping it buoyant couldn't stand the extra water pressure.

"We worked it out quickly, but it took a while to fix the problem," laments Ross. "Our buoyancy foam was fine when we tried it out off Orkney but it couldn't cope in Portugal."

The Pelamis engineers designed new floats, changing the foam. Then they had to wait through a stormy winter before they could install them.

Next Programme

Two more wave machines should soon be in position, making three in all. At full production the company says they will be able to generate enough power for 1,500 homes.
And 25 more machines are on order for Portugal. It's been an expensive wait, but Ross Henderson believes the company has built up the expertise to deal with a variety of sea conditions.

"We managed to do the changeover using much smaller boats than we're used to in the North Sea, where everything is geared up for the oil industry." So installations should be cheaper in future.

Pelamis is looking at new projects in Norway, Spain, France, South African and North America. Meanwhile, four machines are being installed off Orkney next year, with seven more due to go in north of Cornwall the year after.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

International Standards for PV Power Plants and Wind Turbines

Leading European research institutes found the association DERlab to strengthen the distributed power generation.
In Kassel, Germany, eleven leading European research institutes have founded the association DERlab (which stands for European Distributed Energy Resources Laboratories) as an independent world-class laboratory for the grid-integration of distributed power generation. The association is based at the Institute for Solar Energy Supply Technology (ISET) in Kassel.

Currently distributed power generators such as solar power plants and wind turbines feed their electricity – unregulated for the most part – into the public grid at a low-voltage or medium-voltage level. Their increasing numbers create new challenges, in particular since currently there are neither harmonised standards nor harmonised interconnection requirements or test procedures for grid feed-in in Europe.

In the Network of Excellence DERlab, supported by the European Commission, the research institutes from eleven countries have been developing joint requirements and quality criteria for the interconnection and operation of distributed energy resources since the end of 2005. In addition, they prepare testing and certification methods as well as standards valid all over Europe for decentralised power generation. By founding the association, the project partners have now sealed their further co-operation after the six-year research project is completed: even after 2011 they will continue to jointly use the laboratory infrastructure and exchange research results, personnel and know how. “With our collaboration, we want to ensure the quality of decentralised power generators and co-ordinate future test procedures at an early stage”, Philipp Strauss, chairman of the board of the new association, said during the first meeting of members on the verge of the 13th Kassel Symposium Energy Systems Technology on September 17th in Kassel.

International White Book on Grid Inverters

Counted among the results of the Network of Excellence is, for example, the preparation of an international white book for research and standardisation needs of grid inverters. These devices are increasingly being used for the integration of distributed power generation and adapt the voltage and frequency of a solar power plant, for example, to grid conditions. To date, international standards do not exist in this area. This is what the DERlab researchers want to change. Their draft concept will be dis-cussed at an international level within the framework of the third DERlab inverter workshop in Nice, France on 9 December 2008.

The European Network of Excellence DERlab

The European Network of Excellence DERlab is co-ordinated by the Institute for Solar Energy Supply Technology (ISET)/Germany. In addition to ISET, the following research institutes and universities participate in DERlab: University of Manchester/UK, KEMA/The Netherlands, Fundación Labein/Spain, Risoe National Labora-tory/Denmark, arsenal research/Austria, National Technical University of Athens/Greece, CESI RICERCA SpA/Italy, Commissariat à l´Energie Atomique (the French Atomic Energy Commission)/France, Technical University of Sofia/Bulgaria, Technical University of Lodz/Poland.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Record Growth for Wind Energy in 2007

In 2007 electricity from wind reached the important milestone of generating 1% of global electricity demand. International Energy Agency (IEA) figures show global electricity generation in 2007 at 19,189 TWh, the report’s calculations show generation from wind reached 194 TWh in 2007. On the one hand, this is a very impressive achievement; back in 1997, just 10 years ago, wind energy generation was only 15 TWh, barely 0.1% of the global total of 13,949 TWh.

However, put another way, that 194 TWh of wind-generated electricity meets just 4% of the growth in electricity demand over the decade. If the world needs to aim for an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, for one of the main technologies that can contribute to this achievement to have displaced only 4% of the growth in emissions over the decade just from electricity production (and none from heat or transport).

Overall installations and geographical spread

With 19,791 MW of new installations, the total installed wind capacity grew to around 94,000 MW. New installations in 2007 are up 32% on 2006 and this is a third year of rapid growth following a 42% increase in 2005 and a 20% increase in 2006. Overall capacity is up 27%, again following an increase of 24% in 2005 and 25% in 2006. GWEC estimates the economic value of the global wind market in 2007 at about US $37 billion.

Collecting data for reports such as the BTM document, and importantly verifying it, is not an exact science and the data can vary between sources. GWEC, for instance, gives a figure for new capacity in 2007 of 20,076 MW. The main differences are in the figures for Spain, where the national association AEE (Asociación Empresarial Eólica) claims that 3522 MW of capacity was installed, rather than the 3100 MW figure used by BTM. In addition, provisional figures for China and India are used by GWEC.

One key area of variation is between the cumulative totals of turbines delivered to the market by the manufacturers, and those actually known to have been installed. There are always turbines in transit, and projects under construction and not yet commissioned. Note too that while figures for new installations are generally fairly reliable, accurate information on decommissioned turbines is harder to find, so cumulative installation figures will have slightly more uncertainty about them.

Geographically, there was strong growth in the US market, where the PTC (production tax credit), a key market driver, will stay in force until the end of 2008. The US installed 5244 MW in 2007, more than double the 2006 figure and increasing total capacity by 45%. This figure is the largest ever installed in one country in one year, beating the 3200 MW installed in Germany in 2002. With plenty of additional construction under way, 2008 should also be a good year for installations.

Elsewhere in the Americas, both Brazil and Canada saw significant activity on the development front. With 161 MW installed, Brazil delivered a 70% increase in total wind capacity. Meanwhile Canada, with 386 MW installed, recorded a 26% increase in its capacity. Only 23 MW was installed in the whole of the rest of the Americas, but the region nonetheless now represents nearly 30% of the world market.

The other area of very rapid growth was China; 3287 MW of wind was installed in the country in 2007, more than doubling the total installed capacity to 5875 MW. India also installed significant new capacity – 1617 MW, a 26% increase – as did Taiwan – 106 MW, a 90% increase. However, there was no activity anywhere else in Asia, but the explosive growth in China now means that South and East Asia accounts for just over 25% of the world market.

On a regional level, Europe is still the largest market, accounting for 8285 MW of installation, nearly 42% of the global total. Germany and Spain continue to be the largest markets, accounting for over half of the capacity installed in Europe. However, there was also significant growth in France (888 MW installed in 2007), Italy (603 MW), Portugal (434 MW) and the UK (427 MW), though in the case of Portugal and the UK, this was lower than expected, and in both countries a decline on the 2006 installation figure.

Interestingly, too, some countries with relatively low installed capacity saw very high percentage increases – Turkey, for instance, nearly tripled its total installed capacity in 2007, going from 76 MW to 225 MW. The Czech Republic, with a 128% increase to 114 MW, and Poland, where capacity increased 84% to 313 MW, also saw rapid expansion. This suggests that these countries could become important players in the wind energy market in coming years. At the other end of the scale, Denmark installed only 8 MW, just 0.02% of its capacity, and Austria installed just 20 MW, a 2.1% increase.

While Europe increased its level of installations, it is nonetheless notable that the growth elsewhere in the world leaves Europe with a lower share of the global market than ever before. Overall year-on-year growth in Europe has also noticeably slowed; the 8285 MW of new capacity was only an 8% increase on the 2006 capacity.

There was some activity in Australia (176 MW installed, a 22% capacity increase), Japan (229 MW, 16%), New Zealand (151 MW, 89%), and in Egypt (80 MW, 35%), but no significant activity in any other countries or regions.

Offshore prospects

One area that has not made much progress is offshore wind development. In total, 200 MW was installed offshore in 2007, a 23% increase on capacity at the end of 2006 and bringing the total installed to 1077 MW. This was entirely made up of just two projects, the 110 MW Lillgrund in Sweden, and the 90 MW Burbo Bank in the UK. All of this installed capacity is in Europe, spread between just five countries: Denmark, the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and Ireland. (BTM does not include in these figures prototype installations that largely serve an R&D purpose. There are several of these, mainly in very shallow water, or close to the coast in Germany and Denmark.)
One feature of the overall market, with a particular impact on the offshore sector, has been strong demand for wind turbines. As a result prices have increased and delivery times lengthened. Add in the extra complexity of supplying turbines for use offshore and it is easy to understand why many of the manufacturers are somewhat reluctant to tackle this area.

At the moment, only Siemens Wind – which supplied the turbines for both Lillgrund and Burbo Bank – and Vestas have significant practical experience with offshore installations. GE Wind has not done any projects since the Arklow Bank installation in Ireland in 2003. However, a number of other companies have announced plans to enter the offshore market. These include REpower, Nordex and Multibrid.

Turbine numbers and size

Keeping track of turbine numbers is problematic. Though the record of commissioned turbines is usually fairly straightforward, there is no such clear recording of decommissioned turbines. A number of projects are also being repowered, with smaller turbines being replaced by larger ones.

Not surprisingly, 2007 saw a record number of turbines installed as well as record capacity. A total of 14,595 machines brought the overall global total to 97,211. The increase in average size can be established from the figures; the overall average size for a wind turbine is now 967 kW; those going in to the ground during 2007 were closer to 1.5 MW on average.

However, while this is a larger average size than in 2006, the slightly smaller size turbines more typically used in China, usually closer to 1 MW, mean that the increase in average size was not as pronounced as in earlier years. The average size of turbines installed is significantly larger, for instance, in Germany (where there are fewer sites with good wind resources left undeveloped) and the UK (where the average is boosted by the larger, offshore wind turbines).

Overall, turbines of 1 MW and more now dominate, with their market share of 96% well up on the 87% of 2006. It is also interesting to note that as recently as 2003 they represented less than half the installed capacity. Turbines in the ‘multi-MW class’ greater than 2.5 MW are slowly increasing their market share, with 5.3% of the market by capacity in 2007, up from 4.3% in 2006 and 2.4% in 2005. There are now also three turbines at 3 MW or larger in commercial use (the Siemens 3.6 MW, the Vestas 3 MW and the WinWind 3 MW). In addition, there are several multi-MW turbines under testing as prototypes; these include the E-112 4.5 MW turbine from Enercon – which also has a 6 MW version with a 126 metre rotor diameter – and 5 MW machines from Prokon Nord (Multibrid concept), REPower’s M5 and one from Bard currently testing in Germany.

Supply side of the market

As would be expected in a maturing market, there are considerable changes in the wind energy industry, particularly when viewed over a period of several years rather than in any one year in particular. The size of wind farms continues to grow, as does the size of the wind turbines which populate them. And, while offshore installations are only a small fraction of the current total wind market – with a roughly 1% market share – this sector is likely to have more influence in the years to come.

However, the key driver in the market has been strong demand. Prices have edged up, and many manufacturers are working to capacity. According to GWEC, for example, in the USA developers report that turbines are sold out for the year. Rapidly increasing oil prices, which are often closely followed by natural gas, serve both to increase turbine manufacturers’ own costs, and to boost demand so turbine prices are likely to continue to rise for some time. Component supply has also been a key issue for manufacturers in 2007.

Once again, there has been some shuffling in the top 10 manufacturers. Noticeable in 2007 is the inclusion of two Chinese manufacturers, Goldwind and Sinovel in the top 10, and a fairly sharp decline in Vestas’ market share. The Danish company increased its output but was expanding at significantly less than the market rate and so saw its overall share slip from 28.2% to 22.8%. The major turbine manufacturers by installation from 2005–2007 are summarized in Table 1 (above).

However, Vestas is the only manufacturer with a global presence – represented in almost all of the markets with a significant size (taken as over 50 MW a year). There is still evidence of good support for locally-based companies, with GE Wind having the number one spot in its home US market, and likewise Gamesa in Spain, Suzlon in India and Goldwind in China.

Interestingly, no Chinese manufacturers are yet exporting turbines. Longer term, manufacturing capacity in China is expected to reach 10–12 GW by 2010, according to GWEC, and with forecasts for domestic installations of around 6.5–7 GW in 2010, export is likely to become quite significant. The share of the Chinese market supplied by foreign manufacturers has fallen from 79% in 2004 to 42% in 2008, with domestic suppliers now meeting 56% of the demand and the small balance being met by joint ventures.

Prospects for the wind industry

GWEC’s forecast is slightly more modest, assuming that the final installed capacity in 2012 will reach 240 GW. This represents an average growth rate for new installations of 12.4% per year, and of installed capacity of 20.6% annually. Given that the market has been increasing by an average of 24.7% a year on GWEC’s figures over the past five years, this seems somewhat pessimistic. The industry trade body expects supply chain difficulties to limit growth, particularly over the next two years, though it does forecast more rapid growth after 2010, once the supply chain has adjusted to meet demand. This is, however, an almost 10% upward adjustment of its earlier forecast made in 2006 of 221 GW. It sees stronger than expected growth in the US and China, and the increase in Chinese-manufactured wind turbines taking some of the strain out of the current supply situation.

One key factor in both of these forecasts is the growth in the US. Any forecast for the US market will depend significantly on whether the production tax credit (PTC) gets renewed. At the moment, it is due to expire at the end of 2008, and past experience shows that non-renewal can slam the brakes on wind development. There is strong political support for an extension to the PTC, and Presidential candidates from both main political parties have made strong statements in favour of more renewable energy. Both the BTM and the GWEC forecasts reflect the US industry’s own view that the current PTC is likely to be renewed, though as of June 2008 this had still not happened.

The situation in China looks rather more clear-cut. The government has set out specific targets in a ‘Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for Renewable Energy’ in August 2007 requiring a 10% contribution to energy from renewable sources by 2010, and 15% by 2020 and combined this with a mandated market share. To meet these targets the government will invest about €200 billion, and the country will need to depend heavily on the wind industry. The BTM forecast for China is to reach 42.3 GW by 2012 which would be well ahead of the government’s own forecast. The industry already comfortably beat the government’s earlier target of 5 GW installed by 2010. However, overall demand for power in China may well exceed 1000 GW by 2020.

BTM also forecasts significant growth in Europe between 2007 and 2012, with offshore installations being a significant factor in the European market, but of limited application elsewhere. Spain and Germany will continue to be large markets (with repowering being common in Germany), though more rapid growth is expected in the UK (much of it offshore), France, Portugal and Italy. BTM expects Europe to remain the largest market, ahead of the Americas, and then Asia. GWEC, though, expects Asia to be the largest market, followed by the Americas and with Europe dropping to third.

BTM also provides a detailed assessment of the likely growth in offshore wind developments. It believes that such installations will rise from the current 1.1 GW installed to 8.1 GW by 2012. Almost all of this (7.4 GW) is likely to be in Europe, and offshore’s share of global capacity will be about 4% by 2012. Nearly half of this is likely to be in the UK. This is a slight downgrading of last year’s forecast, tempered by longer than expected permitting processes, and continuing issues getting access to suitable turbines – offshore projects often use the larger turbines, some models of which are not yet in serial production.

Looking beyond 2012 is a far more speculative business. Overall, BTM anticipates that the market demand will reach 104 GW per year by 2017. This would give an installed capacity of about 691 GW by 2017, roughly seven times the capacity in 2007. This could generate some 1573 TWh, or about 5.93% of the IEA’s estimate of 26,549 TWh of global electricity demand.


The cost of wind turbines, and the price of the electricity they generate, will of course be the key driver in the way that markets develop. This is, to quite a significant extent, dependent on the policy framework and tax and regulatory issues that governments put in place. Nonetheless, it is still the vital ingredient for achieving the project finance that will enable wind to continue its current impressive levels of growth.

Earlier forecasts had assumed a level of price reduction associated with economies of scale. However, this has not happened, and in fact further price rises are likely to be seen. First, there is something of a ‘sellers’ market’, with rapidly growing demand chasing a not quite so rapidly growing number of turbines as manufacturing capacity lags. Perhaps not surprisingly, turbine manufacturers have been able to keep prices firm to ensure that they get healthy margins from their businesses. In addition, as with other manufacturing industries, the wind industry is also facing rising costs of raw materials, transport fuels and energy.

As a result, BTM anticipates that the turnkey price for onshore wind is likely to be of the order of US$2119 per kW, and offshore at $3654 per kW. Using these figures, total sales are likely to be some $56 billion in 2008, and this is likely to rise to $111 billion by 2012. This gives an overall value to the global wind turbine market at around $300 billion over the next five years. GWEC’s more conservative figure is similar, but slightly lower at $277 billion.

It is, of course, important to remember that an average price is an artificial one – there is no such thing as an average project, and there will be very significant variations from project to project. The purpose of the average is simply to illustrate the significant economic value of the wind business as a whole.


Economic projections are difficult at the best of times, when economies are relatively stable and a reference ‘business as usual’ case can be used. However, there are numerous signals that the world faces very turbulent economic conditions for a while – a credit crunch may make some project finance difficult, and the shortage of raw materials could lead to supply chain difficulties.
However, the rapidly escalating price of oil is focusing a lot of attention on the price of energy, and the hedge of electricity supply without a fuel cost is likely to become increasingly attractive to many companies and utilities. At some stage, rising fuel costs could lead to demand for wind energy becoming almost infinite.

While wind energy can still seem a small industry compared with conventional power generation, the achievement of 1% of world electricity generation is potentially significant. In individual markets such as Denmark, Germany and Spain reaching 1% has been a breakthrough figure, establishing a critical mass and being followed by further rapid growth in each market.

If the same pattern is seen with world wind energy demand, and the industry continues to establish itself as a significant player in the energy sector and pushes on rapidly to 3% of world electricity demand and beyond, then the glass should be seen as half full.

Ref: International Wind Energy Agency

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Growth in solar business changes company rankings

The explosion of photovoltaics production across the globe completely reshuffled the top companies in Nomura Securities' annual ranking of the leading companies, knocking long established Japanese players out of the top spots and putting four Asian suppliers in the Top 10. Japan's leading solar companies outline their strategies for this changing market in this report from SST partner Nikkei Microdevices.

Fast growing Q-Cells AG became the world's largest solar cell maker in 2007, producing nearly 400 megawatts (MW) worth of product. Longtime solar industry leader Sharp found itself in second place as production slipped to roughly 370 MW, which the company blamed on a constrained supply of silicon. China's Suntech was close behind the leaders with more than 300 MW output, pushing Kyocera and its 200 MW to a distant third.

Four new companies jumped into the top ranks. CdTe-cell maker First Solar debuted at fifth place, the only US-based and only thin-film supplier on the list. Asian players Motech Industries (Taiwan), Yingli Green Energy (China), and JA Solar Holdings (China/Australia) rounded out the rankings, pushing aside some long-established players like Mitsubishi Electric, Schott AG, and BP Solar.

Nomura notes that Japan's overall share of the solar cell market, at 50% a few years ago, is now down to about 20% and could well slip to 15% in the next few years as the rest of the world ramps up solar-cell production.

The major Japanese suppliers are aiming for major growth of their own in the next two years, with big expansions in capacity — on the gigawatt scale at Sharp and Showa Shell Solar KK — and on new technologies they say will significantly improve efficiency. "The next two years will determine the winners," AIST Research Center for Photovoltaics director Michio Kondo told Nikkei Microdevices. "Later entrants won't be able to catch up to those who put an all out effort now into technology and scale and speed. A year from now will be too late."

Sharp's comeback strategy is a major ramp of production capacity in both crystalline and thin-film cells, and an expansion across the entire solar value chain, to assure capturing the highest value-added parts of the business and the high value of integrating the whole system, reports Tetsuro Muramatsu, GM of the company's solar systems group. He says Sharp plans 1 gigawatt (GW) of capacity for crystalline cells and another 1 GW of capacity of thin-film cells by 2010, counting on the economies-of-scale from the high-volume production to reduce costs enough to bring solar electricity down to close to the target $0.21/kWh.

Sharp figures the solar cells or modules themselves account for only 25% (for x-Si) to 40% (thin-film) of the added value of the finished total system, with materials as much as 20% (x-Si), and systems and engineering another 35%-40%. Accordingly, the firm has in recent months started its expansion across the value chain by forming a company to develop solar production equipment with Tokyo Electron, by signing on to solar power production deals with utilities in Japan and Italy, and by investing in developing large-capacity, low-cost storage batteries for solar systems through Japanese Li-ion venture ELIIY Power. The company eyes bringing solar systems to regions of the world with no electrical grid with government supported lease financing.

Some question, however, how a company can distinguish itself in the long term if it makes the same product with the same turnkey production line as its competitors. NexPower president Semi Wang told Nikkei Microdevices his company planned to find its own ways to improve its future production lines itself to reduce costs, with its own developments and with equipment from other companies. Kaneka's Mikio Hatta, managing executive officer of the solar energy division, questions how producers making 6%-7% efficient cells on turnkey lines can compete with the 10%-11% efficient cells his company makes with equipment it developed itself.
Other major players Sanyo Electric, Kyocera, Mitsubishi Electric, Kaneka, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plan more modest capacity expansions over the next few years, concentrating instead primarily on developing their proprietary new technologies to make higher-efficiency cells at lower cost, often relying initially on specialty equipment developed in-house.

Kyocera and Mitsubishi Electric each plan to expand to 500 MW annual capacity for crystalline solar cells by 2010-2012, noting their growth plans are limited primarily by the amount of silicon they expect to be able to obtain. Both companies say they have no plans to start thin-film production in the foreseeable future, though both are continuing research efforts. Instead, they count on significantly improved efficiencies from new x-Si technologies. Kyocera solar energy marketing manager Ichiro Ikeda says his company plans to start production in April 2009 of its back-contact cells, which are now getting 18.5% efficiency in the lab. Solar systems manager Satoshi Ikeda reports Mitsubishi Electric plans volume production in 2010 of its honeycomb cells, currently with R&D efficiency of 18.6%.

"With a plentiful supply of silicon available again, and revolutionary new technologies ready for market, 2010-2011 will be a crucial turning point," says Showa Shell Solar's Kuroda. "Companies who miss this window of opportunity will lose out to the competition."

(Ref: Renewable Energy World.com)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bihar floods linked to Climate Change

Though floods have been a regular feature, their growing intensity is being seen as a fall out of global warming. Recent scientific studies suggest that climate change-related melting of glaciers could seriously affect half a billion people in the Himalaya-Hindu-Kush region.

The United Nations called last year's floods in India as the worst in recent memory. Bihar was among the ten worst affected states. The floods in Bihar cause pain of misery, year after year. Last year was worse there. The embankment breached at night. Many were washed away in their sleep. "The current comes straight to our homes when the embankment breaches. We don't know what to do to save our selves, save the children. There's no way out," said Sumeri Devi, a villager."Ten children died this time - one old man, my (late) husband's elder brother was washed away from the road," said Pano Devi, a widow.

Animals too paid with their lives. Villagers could barely save themselves and those who escaped death were devastated by hunger and disease."Some suffer from coughs, some from cholera, others get cold and fever, some kalazar, these diseases are spreading," said Pramila Devi. "A lot of vomiting, stomach upsets and other different kinds of sores and ailments are spreading. Pregnant women are not able to have safe deliveries," said Mani Kumari, NGO worker.Pankshi Devi has five children to look after. Her husband died of snake-bite last monsoon. When the floodwater gushed into her home at night, she rushed to save her children, a bamboo stick pierced her eye. There was no medical help and now, she can barely see."A needle pierced my eye and it is gone now. It has affected the other eye too. Both my eyes are gone," said Pankshi Devi.Farming has been affected as well. Farmers, who used to grow three crops a year, now bank on the Rabi season after the floodwaters recede.

Extreme climatic variations are also worrying them. Not many of them know that this is due to global warming. Experts say things will only get worse. "Since the past few years, extremes of weather is troubling people. Because of global warming, glaciers are melting due to which a lot of water has come in the rivers. So naturally, the floods are much more now and more severe than in the past," said Birendra Nath Jha, geologist turned farmer."Monsoon will be severe, just as the winters were. Just as this summer is, after summer, monsoon too will be extreme. A terrible monsoon will come again and then floods just as severe. This time there will be more devastation," said Halima Khatoon, a villager.Natural disasters are the visible face of climate change. In Bihar, recurring floods may be commonplace, but their growing intensity may be linked to the weather. They leave the population to deal with a host of diseases and disaster-inflicted injuries.
(Ref: NDTV)

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