Tag Archives: Wind

Germany generated that much renewable energy, they actually paid people to use it!

17 May

What a time to be alive – on Sunday 8th May 2016, Germany produced an incredible amount of renewable energy. For a few hours, the European nation went full ‘green’. Its power grid had surplus, and for a few hours residents actually earned money from using electricity, rather than paying for it. We were just as shocked as you!

The weather was so sunny and windy that at about 1pm in the day, the wind, hydro, solar and biomass plants in Germany generated 87% (55GW) of the entire amount of power (63GW) being consumed in the country. It’s an astonishing achievement and one that unfortunately the industry just was not expecting.

In 2015, Germany’s renewable energy mix was at 33% but Germany managed to use the sun, wind and rain to provide 87 per cent of an entire country’s energy requirements which is an incredible achievement. Usually, renewables just top up the main supply. Gas plants were actually shut down due to the green surge, but nuclear and coal plants couldn’t suspend activity fast enough. It meant the grid was overrun with power.

So Germany’s target of becoming 100% renewable by 2050 (which Denmark is currently hitting) seems not as ambitious as once thought. Germany will of course need to keep some of its nuclear and coal plants running due to the unpredictability of its renewable energy sources as they are dependent on the weather. In July last year, Denmark’s wind power was generating 140% of its demand, meaning energy could be sent over to Germany, Norway and Sweden.

At the moment there is a north/south split in the country, as wind turbines are located mostly in the north of Germany and solar power plants in the south. The authorities are also wanting to phase out nuclear power by 2022. With the country making exciting gains towards its goal, experts believe Germany to be a good role model for other developed countries.

It has been argued that the grid needs to become more flexible in order for the transition to renewable energy to be successful. Presently, renewable energy plants generating a lot of energy on sunny and blustery days have to push it into the grid, resulting in inefficiency and these negative prices. But with developed grid management and power storage technology, sudden spikes could be handled better and utilised in a more effective way.

Could Wave Power Satisfy our Energy Needs?

12 Apr

The UK is a great location for wave power and it is often argued that marine energy converters could offer a more consistent source of energy in comparison to alternative clean energy sources. Researchers at the College of Engineering at the Oregon State University have recently established a new analysis that suggests wave power could also prove to be a cheaper alternative to its renewable energy equivalents. The new analysis has suggested that large-scale wave power arrays could balance out supply and demand by not putting a substantial amount of pressure on the grid.

What do we already know about wave energy? An advantage to wave energy is that it will never run out. There will always be waves crashing upon the shores of nations, near the populated coastal regions. The waves flow back from the shore, but they always return. Unlike fossil fuels, creating power from waves creates no harmful by-products such as gas, waste, and pollution. The energy from waves can be taken directly into electricity-producing machinery and used to power generators and power plants nearby. In today’s energy-powered world, we know a source of clean energy is hard to come by.

Waves are hardly interrupted and are almost always in motion. This makes generating electricity from wave energy a reasonable reliable energy source (at least when you compare them to solar and wind). Beneficially, the energy density is typically around 30-40 kW for every meter (2.2 feet) of wave along the shore. As we go further into the ocean 100kW for every meter is not uncommon. A wave farm that is occupying less than a half square mile of an ocean could generate more than 30 MW of power, the equivalent of 20,000 British homes.

Let’s take a look at the other advantages of wave power:

Pro’s

  • Low Operating Costs – Once installed there are few ongoing operating costs or labour costs, unless there is a device breakdown.
  • No material resources are used or changed in the production of wave power, making it a truly renewable power form.
  • Most wave power devices are installed mostly or fully submerged in water. By installing the devices far enough from shore there is minimal “damage of water views” that has been associated with offshore wind turbines.
  • It offers shoreline protection, as capturing the kinetic energy of the tide will lead to less power crashing into the shore, which should help prevent damage to the shoreline.
  • Most wave power devices operate at optimal efficiency levels regardless of the direction of the waves.

Similar to most good things, wave power does come with a number of disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage to getting your energy from the waves is location. Only power plants and towns near the ocean will benefit directly from it. Because of its source, wave energy is not a viable power source for everyone. Landlocked nations and cities far from the sea have to find alternate sources of power, so wave energy is not the clean energy solution for everyone. Other disadvantages include:

Con’s

  • The high cost of device and associated power products could lengthen the payback period and be cost prohibitive based on the characteristics and size of each project.
  • Sea life could be harmed or have habitats disrupted or displaced. The machines disturb the seafloor, changing the habitat of near-shore creatures (like crabs and starfish) and create noise that disturbs the sea life around them.
  • Strong ocean storms and salt water corrosion can damage the devices, which could increase the cost of construction to increase durability and/or cause frequent breakdowns. This especially holds true with the increased complexity of the devices.
  • Aesthetically unpleasing, the overtopping devices could produce a loud, constant noise. This noise is unlikely going to be significantly louder than the waves would make on their own.
  • The performance of wave power drops significantly during rough weather. They must withstand rough weather.

Installers should consider the pros and cons of this energy source and consider who and what they may be disturbing. Who knows what the future holds for wave power!

Wind Energy Production Has A Record Breaking 2014 Across The Globe

7 May

It’s good news on the renewable energy front. It has been reported by The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) that global wind energy production increased by 44% in 2014. It appears the world’s energy worries may be actually blowing in the wind as a total 51,477 megawatts worth of wind capacity was installed around the globe.

It has taken around 40 years to get here but the total global wind capacity now stands at a huge 369,553 megawatts. 2014’s total is about one seventh of the total installed which is a good indication of how popular wind power has become.

At the end of 2013, the expectations for wind power market growth were uncertain, as continued economic slowdown in Europe and political uncertainty in the US made it difficult to make projections for 2014. Thus, you can imagine the surprise of the 2014 results.

Green news outlet, Treehugger said “This means that, in theory, even without acceleration in the rate of growth, we could double wind capacity during the next seven years.” They also speculate that the figure would double again in just five years.

China has had the largest overall market for wind power generation since 2009 and due to another remarkable year has retained the top spot in 2014. Europe had a good year earning them runner up, followed by North American, a distant third.

Zoom into Europe and we find that Germany had a brilliant year in 2014 both onshore and offshore – but rest assured, the United Kingdom also had a great year earning us second place for wind in Europe by installing a total 1,736MW, of which 923 MW was onshore and 813 MW was offshore. The UK is the largest offshore wind market in the world with total installations of almost 4,494 MW, accounting for over half of the global offshore market. The UK now generates enough wind energy to supply the needs of more than 6.7 million UK households. Not bad for a small island!

When it comes to the present a new report from GlobalData has found that Germany is set to overtake the UK as global leader for annual offshore wind turbine installations in 2015, with an estimated 2,071 MW set to be added this year. “Germany’s huge increase in offshore installations is attributable to several offshore wind projects scheduled to come online in 2015,” said Ankit Mathur, GlobalData’s Practice Head for Power.

China is also springing into action and will jump into second place, leaving the UK in third position. Ankit Mathur also went on to say;

“China is also planning an array of offshore wind projects this year, which will see it overtake the UK for annual installations.”

“Additionally, the next few years will see China maintain its annual offshore wind installations around the 1 Gigawatt mark, while the UK will observe relatively lower installations until 2018, when the country’s next offshore growth spurt is expected.”

Chin up UK – this is one race where it doesn’t really matter who comes in first because everyone’s a winner.

A windy October provides Scotland with 126% of their electricity needs met!

7 Nov

Scotland has one of the best wind resources in Western Europe so it came as no surprise when ‘The World Wildlife Fund Scotland’ announced that renewable energy in Scotland had a “bumper month” in October 2014. Wind alone was the major provider with enough energy generated to power around 3,045,000 homes, an enormous number when you consider the population of Scotland which stands at 5.295 million (2011). Solar and hot water generation also added to the country’s success, who said Scotland was rainy and grey?

An estimated 982,842 MWh of electricity was generated equating to 126 percent of the electricity needs of Scotland met.

Wind power is Scotland’s fastest growing renewable energy technology with their installed on and offshore wind farms. The Scottish Government has a target of generating 100% of Scotland’s electricity by 2020. The majority of this is likely to come from wind power.

The country lies in the path of eastward-moving Atlantic depressions and these bring wind and clouds regularly throughout the year. In common with the rest of the United Kingdom, wind prevails from the south-west, bringing warm, wet air from the Atlantic. The windiest areas of Scotland are in the north and west, parts of the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have over 30 days of gales per year.

It wasn’t just a successful month for Scotland as the UK as a whole saw an increase in wind power generation, providing the island with 2,496,842 MWh of electricity. This is enough to meet the needs of 7,736,000 UK households according to figures from WeatherEnergy. The figures equate to a huge 28 percent of households electricity needs being met for the month.

Solar production also managed to pull in an impressive result as according to the WWF; “For those homes fitted with solar hot water panels, there was enough sunshine to meet an estimated 41% of the hot water needs of an average home in Edinburgh, 31% in Inverness, 30% in Glasgow, and 27% in Aberdeen.”

Considering summer has officially ended these are remarkable figures for this time of year. The population of Scotland that are living with installed solar panels or heat water, around a third of their energy needs were met from the sun this October, helping reduce their reliance on coal, gas, or even oil. Impressive stuff!

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks has said; “The science is clear, if we are to prevent the worst impacts of global climate change, then the world needs to move away from fossil fuels. The good news is that here in Scotland we’re making good use of wind power to create clean electricity.

“With nuclear power plants were being forced to shut because of cracks, Scotland’s wind and sunshine were quietly and cleanly helping to keep the lights on in homes across the country.”

Well done Scotland, and hopefully the success will continue!

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!

 

In a galaxy far far away…A drone beamed energy back down to earth!

29 Nov

A company called ‘New Wave Energy UK’ has a new technological goal for gathering solar, wind and heat energy. With ideas such as having solar panels in space, or wind turbines flying at high altitude, New Wave Energy UK intends to develop something new. By using drones they intend to harvest energy from 50,000 feet above the surface of the earth, and then beam it back down to us. Move over solar space power plants and bring on the drones.

The drones created by New Wave Energy UK are very clever in that they each harvest enough energy to power themselves, and send the remainder to the planet to power our homes, offices and devices. The company have a unique selling point in which they focus on the fact there is little biodiversity or air traffic at that height meaning one drone could harvest energy from several sources.

First of all, the company are going to test out the new drones on a much smaller scale. They will be used to help in natural disasters by providing energy to search and rescue missions, along with other emergency services. Then it will be referred to remote or developing regions which have no connection to an energy grid. If no problems are met then the ultimate step will be to scale up the generating capacity of the units and the volume in order to provide power to an entire country!

In a recent press release, New Wave Energy UK said;

“The technology is a wireless solution which will incorporate wireless power transmission from the drones (and their wireless network) to the Earth’s surface, another new technology developed by multiple bodies in the USA and Japan for energy production using solar satellites. Aerial energy harvesting is in its infancy however does show great promise.”

According to Gizmag, “Each drone will have four rotors, multiple wind turbines and a flat base for generating solar power. It’ll be able to power itself with the harvested energy and generate an additional 50 kW that can be transmitted wirelessly to the ground. Rectenna arrays installed inland or on offshore installations would receive the electromagnetic waves and convert them into usable power.”

One concern faced is the reliability of the technology, with being 50,000ft above the planet, there is little room for error, as each drone contains many components each with the potential to break. Therefore, the company have been working hard to develop a drone that could easily be updated.

How do you feel about these drones? Brilliant idea or a bit too terminator 2 for your liking? We would love to hear your suggestions below!

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