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Hurricane Bertha leaves the UK with record breaking amounts of wind power!

4 Sep

This August we observed a huge shift in power from coal to wind. With hurricane Bertha leaving trails of her ruin pummelling the UK with wind and rain, wind turbines around the country provided more power to the UK grid than coal plants. RenewableUK, the country’s leading renewable trade association, announced on Monday that UK wind had surpassed coal on the 3rd, 9th, 11th, 12th, and 17th of August 2014.

RenewableUK found wind averaged over 5 gigawatts (GW) of power, with high winds in the evening meaning the clean energy overtook coal. It was found that between 9.30pm and 10pm on Sunday August 11, wind generation was at the highest percentage share for the month so far, meeting 17% of national demand.

Jennifer Webber, The director of External affairs at RenewableUK stated: “Wind energy is taking its place as the UK’s new powerhouse, overtaking coal and nuclear as one of the most important resources we have to keep Britain’s lights on”.

Taking Hurricane Bertha out of the equation, wind power generation has been coming on leaps and bounds when we consider the construction of new wind farms around the country, not only onshore but offshore also for example The London Array. Both offshore and onshore wind generation have continued to increase from 2012–2014. Recent energy statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change found both onshore and offshore load factors exceeded or equalled that of gas.

Jennifer Webber continued “It continues to surpass its own records, and these figures prove that can happen at any time of year. As we approach autumn and winter, we can expect wind to maintain this strong August’s performance and provide electricity when demand is especially high.”

Wind also bypassed nuclear on the 29th of August, racking up 5,805 MW. This compared to 5,379MW generated by nuclear power shows the progression of clean energy generation.

On 11th August wind broke a record by providing 21% of the UK’s electricity needs, this record was then broken on the 17th August, when wind went on to generate 22% of the UK’s electricity demand.

“We’re seeing very high levels of generation from wind throughout August so far, proving yet again that onshore and offshore wind has become an absolutely fundamental component in this country’s energy mix,” said Webber earlier in August. “It also shows that wind is a dependable and reliable source of power in every month of year – including high summer.”

In December 2013, the UK saw 13% of its energy needs met by wind power. This August met 10% of that energy demand which is amazing when you think it’s a high summer month where wind strengths are generally lower. It’s clear that if the UK wind industry keeps expanding and developing we will be seeing new records especially coming into the autumn and winter months.

The UK is still a world leader in offshore wind with a total of 62 offshore wind projects in the UK, including those in development. Pretty impressive for this little island!

 

Meet El Hierro…The first island powered 100% by wind!

11 Jul

Ahhh the Canary Islands the place of sun and sand…and the first place of 100% wind power! The smallest of the Canary Islands ‘El Hierro’ has become the first Island in the world to be 100% wind-powered. The island is owned by Spain and is located off the coast of Africa. They have built five wind turbines on the North Eastern tip of the Island for a capacity of 11.5 megawatts. The population of El Hierro is 10,162 as of 2003, therefore the 11.5 megawatts would be enough for all the people who live there.

According to the Ministry for Industry, Tourism and Commerce, El Hierro has become the first island in the world to be energy self-sufficient. They have achieved this through a €54 million project combining a greater than 11 megawatt wind farm and two hydroelectric projects.

They have even implemented a back-up plan for when the wind isn’t blowing! Back-up power will be provided from pumped water storage. The hybrid wind/pumped hydro storage system will store surplus wind power by pumping water up 700 meters (approximately 2,300 feet) to fill the crater of an extinct volcano. When winds are calm or when demand exceeds supply, water will be released from the crater to generate 11.3 MW of electricity, filling an artificial basin created at the bottom of the extinct volcano. Water in the lower basin is then pumped back up again to the upper reservoir when there is excess wind power.

In terms of their carbon footprint, the wind farm and pumped water storage will slash their CO2 emissions by around 18,700 tonnes per year. The project will also eliminate the islands annual consumption of 40,000 barrels of oil. This being said, as a back-up precaution El Hierro will maintain its fuel oil power station. Makes sense I guess?

The closed-loop hybrid wind/hydro system was tested at the end of 2013, and they expect to save approximately £2.5M per year (calculated with January 2011 oil prices).

Hopefully other island nations take encouragement from El Hierro. Many of the surrounding islands burn oil to produce their electricity. The alternative wind, hydro and solar options and much cleaner and potentially make fuel cost free after the initial set up costs.

As of May 2014, the island has become completely self-sufficient for electrical energy. Well done El Hierro!

And the offshore wind award goes to…

15 Nov

2013 is set to be a record breaking year for offshore wind power as it is on track to hit a seventh consecutive annual record. The world total was increased by 20% in just the first six months of the year with developers adding 1,080 megawatts of generating capacity. At present fifteen countries host some 6,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity set to exceed 7,100 megawatts before year end.

In UK waters more than 500 megawatts of new offshore wind power went live in the first six months of 2013, totalling the countries grand total to over 3,400 megawatts. The amount generated is enough to supply more than two million UK homes with power.

The London Array (Check out a previous blog called ‘London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm!’) is to thank for the bulk of this new offshore capacity after it completed its first phase. This year it overtook another of the UK’s offshore wind farms, the 500 megawatt ‘Greater Gabbard’ wind farm which was completed in 2012. In total, the good old blighty has some 12,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity under construction or in earlier development stages.

The United Kingdom is currently top of the charts when it comes to offshore wind capacity, followed by Denmark. Now back in 1991, Denmark was the first country to put wind turbines in the sea as they installed a 5 megawatt project in the Baltic Sea. Since 2008, Denmark’s offshore wind capacity has more than trebled, reaching 1,200 megawatts by mid-2013. At present Denmark gets more than 30% of its electricity from wind (onshore and offshore). They anticipate increasing the share to 50% by 2020. Denmark has the world’s highest wind power capacity per square mile.

In third place we have Belgium who in the first half of 2013 increased their offshore wind capacity by 20%. This totals Belgium’s capacity to 450 megawatts.

China is placed in 4th position after it activated its first offshore wind farm in 2010 reaching an impressive 390 megawatts. China aims to bring 5,000 megawatts of wind capacity to Chinese waters by 2015, expanding to a huge 30,000 megawatts come 2020.

Germany takes 5th position due to their 380 megawatts of offshore wind capacity and the estimated 520 megawatts by year’s end. The German offshore industry anticipates another 1,000 megawatts will connect to the grid in both 2014 and 2015.

Offshore wind is currently gaining huge attention in Japan whose future of nuclear energy is questionable. Potentially by bringing wind power to Japan they would have a huge domestic, carbon free power source. Japan’s offshore wind capacity is currently at 41 megawatts due to a new 16 megawatt project installed in the first half of 2013.

Check out the world ranking figures below!

Earth policy institute – www.earth-policy.org

Dubai’s largest ‘Solar Park’ goes live

1 Nov

Dubai has opened a plant capable of generating around 24 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity every year. This will be the region’s largest photovoltaic facility to date.

The power plant marks the first phase of Dubai’s $3.3bn ‘Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park’ which has a capacity of 13 Megawatts (MW). It was announced on Tuesday that the plant had gone live as part of a push to diversify energy supplies in the UAE.

The plant is designed to have a lifespan of over 25 years and is currently the largest operating solar PV plant in the region. It was connected to the emirates electricity grid just 195 days after breaking ground in March 2013.

Developed by First solar, the plant spans across an area of 238,764 square metres and will generate approximately 24 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, enough to meet the average annual electricity needs of more than 500 households.

In a statement made by First Solar it was explained that the electricity produced by the plant is anticipated to displace around 15,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, this being comparable to removing around 2,000 cars from the road every year.

The 13-megawatt photovoltaic plant is the biggest of its type in the Middle East and North Africa according to Saeed Mohammed Al Taylor (Vice chairman of the Dubai Supreme council of energy). He added;

“This plant represents an important step in the implementation of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 to diversify Dubai’s energy mix. For the first time, we are harnessing the sun to power growth and prosperity in the emirate, which is a significant achievement,”

Dubai’s enormous Solar Park is projected to ultimately cover 40 square kilometres and create 1,000MW of clean energy for the national grid using both PV and solar thermal technology.

First Solar’s CEO, Jim Hughes had the following to say;

 “Solar PV, with its price and operational efficiencies, is the right fit for the Middle East’s energy generation needs.”

By 2030 Dubai plan to generate 5% of its electricity from renewable energy, 12% from coal and a further 12% from nuclear reactors planned in Abu Dhabi.

 

 

 

Google buy enough wind to power 170,000 homes!

11 Oct

Google announced on 17th September 2013 that they will be making their latest energy buy, by purchasing the entire 240 megawatt output of the ‘Happy Hereford Wind Farm’ just outside Amarillo, Texas. This will be Google’s largest clean power purchase so far bringing the data giants wind energy assortment to more than 570 MW. This would be enough energy to power roughly 170,000 homes according to Google.

Chermac Energy is developing the production and they are based in Oklahoma. The wind farm is estimated to begin producing energy in late 2014 and once completed will provide energy to the regional power grid that serves Google’s Mayes County Oklahoma data centre.

Google will have to sell clean energy to the local wholesale market due to regulations in the US as the data centre cannot consume purchased wind power directly. This has been the case with past commitments took by Google in Iowa and Oklahoma. In order to lower their carbon footprint, Google will give up the renewable energy credits and any surplus back to the grid which the company finds to be financially sound and logistically a good way to provide local communities with clean power.

Google have stated, “Due to the current structure of the market, we can’t consume the renewable energy produced by the wind farm directly, but the impact on our overall carbon footprint and the amount of renewable energy on the grid is the same as if we could consume it. After purchasing the renewable energy, we’ll retire the renewable energy credits (RECs) and sell the energy itself to the wholesale market. We’ll apply any additional RECs produced under this agreement to reduce our carbon footprint elsewhere.”

At present, Google have invested just under £400M in solar energy and have funded a range of renewable energy and crisis response projects through its tech focused philanthropic division in Google.org. They have also teamed up with a company named ‘SolarCity’ to provide 8,000 homeowners with the option to go solar through a leasing program or power purchase agreements.

In total Google’s renewable energy commitments have surpassed $1BN (USD) with a capacity of more than 2GW. They aren’t the only big tech company to go big in the clean energy sector – ‘Apple’ who last spring announced to the world that they were running on 75% renewable energy have decided to capitalise on the clean energy market also.

The Happy Hereford wind farm contract is Google’s first wind purchase in Texas. But Google has invested equity in wind farms in Texas, like the Spinning Spur Wind Project, which has a capacity to power about 60,000 American homes, and is located in Oldham County, Texas.

 

 

 

Farm goes green to tackle rising electricity prices!

4 Oct

A farmer in Iowa has decided to tackle growing electricity prices head on by going green. The Jensen’s of Exira have decided to invest in a rising trend tapping into the very same power that helps their crops develop. Alan and Maureen have been farming for decades and have developed 2,400 acres of corn and soybeans, as well as raising 9,000 pigs. At present their main concern is the increasing energy bills which will greatly impact their big operation.

Alan Jensen says, “We use a lot of electricity with all the livestock and the grain that we have to handle and we kept seeing the rates go up higher and higher, almost to the point where it`s unaffordable,”. The Jensen’s farm were receiving electricity bills that averaged at $1,000 per month and they quickly realised the figure would continue to rise.

“We started looking at different ways of making our own electricity and it`s good for the environment and it`s sustainable,” says Jensen. With this in mind Alan and Maureen decided to install solar power by implementing a nearly 36 Kilowatt solar array. After three months had passed the Jensen’s started to see benefits emerging.

The solar array was installed by Wind and Solar Specialists out of Alta, Iowa.  Rob Hach, the president of Wind and Solar Specialists had the following to say, “It will produce year round, even on a cloudy day like today it`s still producing electricity,”.

The average home in Iowa, USA used 900 Kilowatt hours per month according to the Energy Information Administration. At the time, the Jensen’s were using more than four times that at 4,200 Kilowatt hours. The newly implemented solar panels are producing an average 5,300 kilowatt hours per month. Any additional electrons are sent back to the grid and can be used by the farmers when needed.

Jensen also said, “We are building credits, because this Fall, all the corn drying fans will start blowing a lot of air. We`ll start using a lot of kilowatts and we`ll probably start working those credits we built up back down,” According to Hach many farmers are now turning to sustainable energy to secure the farms futures with the current energy prices rising too much.

The Jensen’s haven’t had to pay an electric bill for two months now and argued that solar was the way to go. “The cost of the power keeps going up and as the bills keep getting higher and higher” said Jensen.

All though the change has been positive for the Jensen family – the cost of installing a solar array can range from $20,000 to one million US dollars. Thus, the installation of such is a long-term investment.

The Jensen’s now own the largest privately owned solar array in Iowa and are very happy with the benefits.

 

Australia blown away by wind power generation

13 Sep

Australia has been benefiting from blustery winds according to its National Electricity Market. Wind farms have logged a record amount of power for the week beginning 11th August 2013. During this windy period 47% of Southern Australia’s power was provided by the wind. Victoria’s wind farms contributed an impressive 10% to that states energy demand. New South Wales and Tasmania had their second and third highest levels of wind power generation.

While the energy sector benefited greatly from these winds not everyone was as positive. The emergency services were stretched as havoc was caused across the South.

Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh made the following comment:

“The positive was the large amount of clean energy that was produced by the wind farms on Australia’s southern coastline, breaking records for the amount of wind power generated in a single week in South Australia and Victoria,”.

“What this shows is that wind power is working. It generates very useful amounts of power and also helps farmers who host wind turbines by providing them with income.”

Currently in the UK farmers are taking full advantage of the power of wind turbines. For many not only is this a green way of living but farmers can sell surplus power back to the National Grid – a second income for some.

Russell Marsh also states that based on the data provided by the Australian Electricity Market Operator (AEMO); wind power delivered a record 7.6 per cent of all power created across the whole National Electricity Market during that week, the equivalent of providing more than 2.3 million homes with power.

Usually, South Australia’s wind farms contribute around 25 per cent of the state’s total electricity production. Coal has been the largest source of electricity in South Australia for many years but according to figures for 2011-2012 it has slipped to second place. Wind generation blew past coal in becoming the largest source. The state, which has around 40% of Australia’s installed wind capacity, achieved its target of producing 20% of electricity from renewable energy in 2011.

Coal has been primarily used around the world for producing energy but a new day is dawning and the demand for wind turbines is increasing. Below are just some of the reasons why:

Coal

Wind Turbines

Air pollution: smog, soot, acid rain, toxic air emissions

No air emissions

Waste: Ash, sludge, toxic chemicals, waste heat

No fuel to mine, transport or store

Fuel Supply: mining, transporting, storage

No cooling water need / No water pollution

Water use: billions of gallons of cooling water needed

No Wastes

Wind power can reduce pollution generated by fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. A typical (750 kW) wind turbine provides enough power for 328 typical (non-electric heating) homes.

 On the other hand, wind power does require land for sitting turbines which some people don’t like the look of, others find them visually appealing. A few wind projects have harmed some birds. And some pollution is produced when wind turbines are manufactured and installed, as with all energy options.

South Australia now plans on producing one third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. As with its previous target, this is expected to be met before its deadline.

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