Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sandia's New Sun catcher Energy System


Concentrating solar power plants produce electric power by converting the sun's energy into high-temperature heat using various mirror configurations. The heat is then channeled through a conventional generator. The plants consist of two parts: one that collects solar energy and converts it to heat, and another that converts heat energy to electricity.


Concentrating solar power systems can be sized for village power (10 kilowatts) or grid-connected applications (up to 100 megawatts). Some systems use thermal storage during cloudy periods or at night. Others can be combined with natural gas and the resulting hybrid power plants provide high-value, dispatchable power. These attributes, along with world record solar-to-electric conversion efficiencies, make concentrating solar power an attractive renewable energy option in the Southwest and other sunbelt regions worldwide.

SunCatchers™, the new Concentrating Solar-thermal Power (CSP) dishes, as the scientists call them, have a refined design that will be used in commercial-scale deployments of the units beginning in 2010. Stirling Energy Systems (SES) and Tessera Solar recently unveiled four of these newly designed solar power collection dishes at Sandia National Laboratories’ National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF).


“The four new dishes are the next-generation model of the original SunCatcher system. Six first-generation SunCatchers built over the past several years at the NSTTF have been producing up to 150KW [kilowatts] of grid-ready electrical power during the day,” says Chuck Andraka, the lead Sandia project engineer. “Every part of the new system has been upgraded to allow for a high rate of production and cost reduction.”


Sandia’s concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) team has been working closely with SES over the past five years to improve the system design and operation.


The modular CSP SunCatcher uses precision mirrors attached to a parabolic dish to focus the sun’s rays onto a receiver, which transmits the heat to a Stirling engine. The engine is a sealed system filled with hydrogen. As the gas heats and cools, its pressure rises and falls. The change in pressure drives the piston inside the engine, producing mechanical power, which in turn drives a generator and makes electricity.


The new SunCatcher is about 5,000 pounds lighter than the original, is round instead of rectangular to allow for more efficient use of steel, has improved optics, and consists of 60 percent fewer engine parts. The revised design also has fewer mirrors — 40 instead of 80. The reflective mirrors are formed into a parabolic shape using stamped sheet metal similar to the hood of a car. The mirrors are made by using automobile manufacturing techniques. The improvements will result in high-volume production, cost reductions, and easier maintenance.

Among Sandia’s contributions to the new design was development of a tool to determine how well the mirrors work in less than 10 seconds, something that took the earlier design one hour.

“The new design of the SunCatcher represents more than a decade of innovative engineering and validation testing, making it ready for commercialization,” says Steve Cowman, Stirling Energy Systems CEO. “By utilizing the automotive supply chain to manufacture the SunCatcher, we’re leveraging the talents of an industry that has refined high-volume production through an assembly line process. More than 90 percent of the SunCatcher components will be manufactured in North America.”


In addition to improved manufacturability and easy maintenance, the new SunCatcher minimizes both cost and land use and has numerous environmental advantages, Andraka says.
“They have the lowest water use of any thermal electric generating technology, require minimal grading and trenching, require no excavation for foundations, and will not produce greenhouse gas emissions while converting sunlight into electricity,” he says.


Tessera Solar, the developer and operator of large-scale solar projects using the SunCatcher technology and sister company of SES, is building a 60-unit plant generating 1.5 MW (megawatts) by the end of the year either in Arizona or California. One megawatt powers about 800 homes. The proprietary solar dish technology will then be deployed to develop two of the world’s largest solar generating plants in Southern California with San Diego Gas & Electric in the Imperial Valley and Southern California Edison in the Mojave Desert, in addition to the recently announced project with CPS Energy in West Texas. The projects are expected to produce 1,000 MW by the end of 2012.


(Source from Sandia National laboratory )

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Solar Cities - A Global Initiative for Sustainable Development



The concept of "Solar Citiy" has been popular and well conceived in different parts of the world by various Governments as an initiative for the dissemination of Renewable Energy technologies and as a measure for Sustainable Development.
The focus is on cities as complete systems, and involves establishing targets for energy use and emission reduction, identifying performance indicators, and developing planning strategies aimed at improved performance, within the framework of existing city networks. It sees each city as a unique laboratory for studying the effect of dense urbanisation on energy and the environment, and for determining the required changes and additions to the urban environment needed for sustainability and improving the standard of living for city inhabitants.

A Solar Community is a city or town that made a firm commitment to clear and ambitious emissions reduction targets, also recognising that RE sources and energy efficiency are necessary to achieve sustainable energy provision.

There is an International Solar Cities Initiative (ISCI) aimed at promoting the greater use of renewable energy (RE) within the context of long-term planning for sustainable urban development. The International Solar Cities Initiative (ISCI) originally was an idea of outstanding scientists in the field of solar energy. Sustainability is a word with a rapidly increasing importance in public opinion. Society and its cities should be developed in such a way that use of materials and energy does not exceed the ability of Earth to support it.

The use of energy by far has the largest negative impact of our environment and is exhausting the stock of minerals containing it at an incredible speed. In a few ages mankind uses what had been formed in millions of years.

Solar energy and its derivates are easily available and easily to harvest if we just aim for it and are willing to make an effort. Our buildings can stay comfortable and could nearly operate without the need of external heat sources by using the natural behaviour of the sun. The basic principles have been known for ages.

We can harvest solar heat with low or high tech solar collectors. More than hundred years ago this technique was highly developed already.And we can make electricity from sunlight with rapidly increasing efficiency and decreasing cost. By "going solar" cities set the most important and influential step to sustainability.Therefore sustainable cities have to be solar cities.

Application of solar energy is important in a society which is very dependant if not addicted to energy use. And solar energy can supply a larger share of that energy need than most decision makers know. In many cases it even can be done without adding to the cost of energy or even diminish energy need and net energy costs.

Some of the Solar City initiatives in the world taken up by various Governments in different parts of the world are mentioned below:
Development of Solar Cities - An initiative by the Indian Govt.
In India, several cities and towns are experiencing 15% growth in the peak electricity demand. This rapid rise in demand has resulted in most of the cities and towns are facing severe electricity shortages. Thus managing energy demand has emerged as a priority for the local governments and Municipal Corporations. An action plan, therefore, needs to be developed which would lead to reduction in conventional energy consumption, besides reducing enormous amount of CO2 emission in the atmosphere by way of using energy conservation and renewable energy devices and systems. Accordingly, a programme on “Development of solar cities” has been developed to promote the use of Renewable Energy in Urban Areas by providing support to the Municipal Corporations for preparation and implementation of a Road Map to develop their cities as Solar Cities.

The objectives of the programme are to enable Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to address energy challenges at City level; to provide framework and support to ULBs to prepare a Master Plan including assessment of current energy situation, future demand and action plans; to build capacity in ULBs and create awareness among all sections of civil society; to involve various stakeholders in the planning process; and to oversee the implementation of sustainable energy options through public – private partnerships.
A total of 60 cities are proposed to be developed as "Solar Cities¨ during the 11th Plan period. At least one city in each State to a maximum of five cities in a State will be supported by the Ministry. The cities included in the program will have more than 5 lakh and less than 50 lakh population.
The Programme has been designed to address challenges in delivering sustainable energy at city level through Preparation of a Master Plan within a period of one year from the date of sanctioning by the Ministry. The Master Plan prepared as per the indicative guidelines would provide total and sector-wise projections for energy demand and supply for next ten years. Further, it would provide a complete sector-wise base-line on energy utilization and GHG emissions in the city. Year-wise targets for energy conservation, renewable energy addition and GHG abatement along with the action plan for implementation will be clearly brought out in the Master Plan. Potential sources of funding from respective organizations (both public and private) for providing financial support will be identified.
The programme will also include setting up of a Solar City Cell in the City Council which will have Senior Administrator and City Engineers for planning and implementation. A Solar City Stakeholders Committee will be set up for advisory support involving representation from elected representatives in the municipal bodies, local research and academic institutions, resident welfare associations, industries and corporate organizations, NGOs, State Nodal Agencies and other relevant stakeholders.
Solar Cities Programme in US
Through the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Cities partnership, 25 major U.S. cities are working to accelerate the adoption of solar energy technologies for a cleaner, more secure energy future. The Solar America Cities program has engaged over 180 organizations, including municipal, county, and state agencies, solar companies, universities, utilities, and non-profit organizations. These partners have made a commitment to power their cities with clean, safe, reliable energy -- solar energy. Refer: http://www.solaramericacities.energy.gov/

Cities across the country are realizing the benefits of solar energy:
  • Power from secure, domestic energy
  • Sustainable, "green" urban development
  • Clean energy production that helps meet greenhouse gas reduction targets and climate change goals

  • Development of new economic opportunities
The city solar partnerships have committed to developing a sustainable solar infrastructure that removes market barriers and encourages the adoption of solar energy by residents and businesses. These cities are taking a comprehensive, city-wide approach that lays the foundation for a viable solar market and provides a model for other cities to follow

Solar Cities in Australia

Solar Cities is an Australian Government initiative that assists whole communities to rethink the way they use and produce energy. Governments and industry work with communities in the program to trial solar technologies, energy efficiency measures, pricing arrangements and metering technologies.

Australia's seven Solar Cities are located in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Blacktown, Central Victoria, Moreland, Perth and Townsville. The program continues until 2013.


Dezhou - The Solar City in China

The 4th International Solar Cities Congress will be held in Dezhou, China in 2010 and will be held in a new conference centre that will source 95% of its energy needs from renewable energy and will feature a 5000 square meter area solar system, a solar desalination plant and a solar energy theme park. It promises to be an event not to be missed !

No doubt the city of Dezhou deserved to be the host of the an ISCI congress: The 4th International Solar Cities Congress takes place from 16 to 19 September 2010. The city of Dezhou with its China Solar Valley hosts several innovative industries making components for our solar future.

But their solar products are not only produced here, they are also applied throughout the city of Dezhou.
European Solar Cities Project

Each Solar City will integrate a unique combination of energy options such as energy efficiency measures for homes and businesses, the use of solar technologies, cost reflective pricing trials to reward people who use energy wisely, and community education about better energy usage in an increasingly energy-reliant world.

The information will be analysed to see how different members of a community can best reduce energy consumption, and how governments, industries and individuals can support wise energy use. In particular, the program aims to demonstrate the environmental and economic effects of combining cost reflective pricing with the widespread use of solar technology, energy efficiency and smart meters find out what barriers exist regarding energy efficiency, electricity demand management and the use of solar technology, among businesses and householders and test ways to deal with these barriers.
Conclusion
Most of the energy consumption is taking place in cities around the world and this will directely inject more carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere. So studying and analysing the energy consumption pattern at the city level is very important for reducing the emission of Green House Gases. Inclusion of more Renewable Energy Sources for electricirty generation and reducing the energy consumption by various energy conservation measures can be undertaken in each city for reducing the emission level. Thus each city can contribute in a greater way for the sake of humanity and I do hope that the concept of Solar City will contribute much for that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

G8 Summit at L'Aquila- We expected more from the G8 Nations



The G8 First World countries meeting at L’Aquila, Italy (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK and the US) were also joined at the summit by leaders or representatives from the G5 group of emerging economies (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) .

The leaders of the G8 leading industrial countries have agreed to try to limit global warming to just 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels by 2050; that G8 nations are to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050; and that World carbon emissions should be cut by 50% by 2050 (Refer: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/8141514.stm ).

This outcome has been criticized by the UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon as insufficient and inconsistent with urgent scientific advice (Refer: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8143059.stm ).
All eyes were on the U.S. delegation since President Barack Obama's pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 injected momentum into the Copenhagen talks. His predecessor, George W. Bush had rejected the previous Kyoto deal. But nothing came out as an alternative proposal.

"It's not enough and the United States needs to do more," Yvo de Boer, the United Nations' top climate change official responded . "Without leadership from the G8 countries an international response to climate change will not happen. This meeting needs to point the way."

Scientists have said industrialized countries as a whole needed to reduce carbon emissions by between 24 and 40 percent from 1990 levels to avoid severe impact from climate change.
De Boer said the political will existed to seal a deal in Copenhagen and the economic crisis provided a chance to promote green technology as part of stimulus packages -- something, he said, developing nations like China and Korea had done.

The grossly inadequate response of the G8 nations is a matter of concern for the developing world. It has been estimated that fewer than 1 billion people will survive global warming this century due to unaddressed, man-made climate change, this constituting a prospective climate genocide that will kill 10 billion innocent people including 6 billion infants, 3 billion Muslims, 2 billion Indians and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis.
The voice of the developing countries was put forward by the PM of India, Dr.Manmohan Singh at the G8 Summit.
“The major responsibility lay with the industrial nations, and this was a responsibility that they had acknowledged and undertaken under the UNFCCC. The developing countries wanted the industrial nations to commit themselves to sharp and significant reductions in emissions by 40 per cent below the 1990 (the date of the Kyoto protocol) levels by 2020. This could form the basis for a more ambitious target over the longer term. The developing nations were faced with the problem of adaptation to climate change and India itself was spending 2 to 2.5 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product on adaptation, including to extreme climatic events and disasters and the impact on agriculture. Even if emissions were reduced to zero, the accumulated emissions would continue to impose a long term burden on the developing countries. Based on this perspective, the developing countries have been emphasising the two pillars of financing mitigation and adaptation actions and the transfer of technology.”

Thus, as of 2008, “annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) is 2.2 (India), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included)

The G5, representing China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa, in their declaration called upon the industrial countries to reduce their emissions by 40 per cent in the medium term, by 2020. While the G5 and the other developing countries felt that a long term goal without an intermediate target would not be credible or scientific, the industrial nations argued on grounds of pragmatism and scientific feasibility that it may not be possible for them to commit to such a medium term goal.

Coming back to the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh's address at the Summmit:

'This has not been a crisis of our making, but we have had to bear its consequences. The slowdown in the advanced economies has affected our exports, strengthened protectionist sentiments and impacted credit and capital flows,' Singh said before leaving for the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy.

'We would therefore like to see a concerted and well-coordinated global response to address systemic failures and stimulate the real economy,' he added.

The developing countries were worst-affected by climate change that was brought on by two centuries of industrial activity and high-consumption lifestyles in the developed world, Singh said.

'They (industrial economies) have to bear this historical responsibility,' he said, adding that India would participate in international negotiations based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Bali Action Plan.

Global Warming is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.It is high time that all the nations come together act for the sake of humanity.

The world is at crossroads. We can no longer afford to ignore the human impact of climate change. This is a call to the negotiators to come to the most ambitious agreement ever negotiated or to continue to accept mass starvartion, mass sickness and mass migration on an ever growing scale.


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