Archive for the ‘Greencon Technology Update’ Category
Heat pumps are an excellent alternative to passive energy collection systems. They still rely on electrical power but there advantage lies in the extremly efficient way they manage to heat water. At optimal ambient tempreture (20degC) they can work at an energy conversion factor of +/- 4.5times. So for every one kilowatt of power you put in, you get at least 4,5kw(thermal) out.
Sounds like a whole lot of Greek? Basically you can look at a saving of up to 70% on electrical usage for heating water.
We have installed heat pumps in areas from the Pilanesburg Game Park, to Johannesburg, Pretoria and along our coastal regions with very good results.
Please contact here if you need any further help.
Rare earth-materials are used in a wide range of today’s high-tech consumer and industrial products and are critical enablers for many emerging ‘green energy’ technologies, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, some of the latest PM-type generators for wind turbines, compact flourescent lighting and miniaturized components incorporated in computer hard-disks, mobile telephones and MP3-players.
Commentators expect global demand for NdFeB to almost quadruple by 2030 and quantities required for specific applications can be significant. Industry sources quote, for instance, that the 60 kW fast speed electric motor fitted in a Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle contains at least 0.5 kg of NdFeB magnet material. For a PM-type generator fitted in a 5 MW direct drive wind turbine, these same sources quote a figure of up to 200 kg of NdFeB per MW power rating, around one tonne per machine. This is a much higher quantity compared to the relatively light and compact fast speed systems.
Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping observed years ago that the ‘Middle East has oil, but China has rare earth-elements.’ Xiaoping’s quote reappeared in the world’s press as the issue of supply of the materials resurfaced last year. This coverage followed a leaked Chinese government report named ‘Rare Earths Industry Development Plan 2009-2015’, which stated that China currently accounts for 93% of the world’s production of rare earth-elements (other sources speak of at least 95%). China also produces more than 99% of the output of dysprosium and terbium, which are vital for a wide range of green energy technologies and military applications.
The report stated that within six years (2015) Chinese rare earth-material exports might be restricted to 35,000 tonnes annually. By comparison, global demand during the past decade increased three-fold to about 125,000 tonnes and might reach 200,000 tonnes annually by 2014. By that time, China is expected to need its full annual rare earth-metals output for its local industries, with exports being reduced to zero. Simultaneously, China is said by the report to contain ‘only’ 53% of the world’s cumulative rare earth-element deposits. A major reason for this huge discrepancy between resource availability and China’s current near-monopoly market position is said to be largely economic.
During the 1990s a combination of surplus production, resulting low price levels and stringent environmental legislation led to a spate of mine closures in the West. China kept its mines open, benefitting from lower wage levels and, it is claimed, less stringent environmental legislation. Any prospect of rare earth-element/materials scarcity represents a worrying scenario for the many non-Chinese high-tech industries that increasingly depend upon their unrestricted availability on the open market.
Options to counteract a looming future shortage include – as some have already done – shifting industrial activity that depends on these materials to China itself, in order to safeguard supply.
However, besides the potential conflict with strategic and national security interests, this strategy might also severely hamper goals in other countries and regions to build strong ‘green Industries’.
A second option is accelerated mine reopening outside China, which is already being implemented in the US at Mountain Pass and Australia’s Mount Weld. Apart from these mines there are at least four additional, but smaller, mining locations spread over Canada and Australia. A third option is to search for other solutions outside the rare earth-material scope.
In a sign of its concern, the Japanese government has compiled a ‘Strategy for Ensuring Stable Supplies of Rare Metals’. Europe, like Japan, is not in a favourable strategic position as it lacks any significant resources in this area leaving the continent, according to some experts, fully dependent on imports for supplies.
Details of a R5,3-billion financial incentive, aimed at promoting energy efficiency among South African electricity consumers, was confirmed by Energy Minister Dipuo Peters on Tuesday.
The scheme, which would be known as the Standard Offer, would enable electricity consumers to claim a rebate in respect of the amount of energy they had saved from the electricity system.
Department of Energy director-general Nelisiwe Magubane told journalists at a media briefing in Cape Town that the incentive was linked to the new electricity tariffs and allowed for a rebate to be paid for every megawatt hour saved.
It was understood that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa would shortly hold public hearings on the Standard Offer initiative and it was anticipated that the standard offer would be operational before the end of May.
South Africa’s first large-scale solar-water heater project, whereby 200 000 solar geyser systems will be installed nationwide, will be launched next week, Department of Energy (DoE) acting deputy director-general Ompi Aphane said on Tuesday.
Speaking to journalists in Cape Town, Aphane elaborated that the project was an extension of State-owned enterprise Eskom’s solar water geyser installation programme, under which 3 000 solar water systems had been installed over the past three years.
The idea was to start “massifying” the roll-out, Aphane said, indicating that the 200 000 target had been set for the end of the current fiscal year.
The project was due to be formally launched by President Jacob Zuma in Winterveldt, north-west of Pretoria, on April 28, where 7 000 units would be installed.
Energy Minister Dipuo Peters told journalists that the DoE was working together with the South African Bureau of Standards to ensure that the technology, which had been flooding into the country over the past few years, was up to standard.
It was also stressed that the DOE was working with the Department of Trade and Industry to promote solar geyser local content.
“We believe that by next year we would have localised the solar water heater technology so that we do not have to import systems,” said Peters
April 19 (Bloomberg) — Iberdrola SA won approval to build the world’s largest onshore wind-energy project in Romania, requiring at least $2 billion in investment through 2017.
The Spanish utility said today it acquired rights from the Romanian government to build 1,500 megawatts of capacity. That’s almost five times the power coming from Europe’s largest wind complex and triple what’s proposed offshore Massachusetts in a project opposed by the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy.
Iberdrola, which became the world’s biggest wind-farm owner by using government incentives and charging above-market electricity rates for clean energy, now operates in 10 markets including the U.S. and U.K. The Romanian mega-park, near its operations in neighboring Hungary, may extend the Spanish company’s lead over second-ranked wind producer FPL Group Inc. of Florida.
Romania generates much of its electricity by burning oil and gas, which can be easily scaled back during a windy day to allow for surges of power from windmills, said Will Young, a wind energy analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London.
“That makes Romania an attractive market,” Young said today in an interview. “Romania has relatively high power prices and flexible energy generation that allows power producers to feed in electricity easily.”
Additionally, the government may approve a law later this year to double the number of “green certificates” eligible for wind power and boost the total price per megawatt-hour by 25 percent, Young said.
The company’s Iberdrola Renovables SA renewable-energy unit plans 50 Romanian wind parks that would supply the equivalent of almost 1 million homes, it said in astatement. The project amounts to a third of the new wind power
Iberdrola plans for Eastern Europe, after investing 100 million euros there in 2009.
The average cost to buy and install wind turbines around the world is about 1.3 million euros ($1.75 million) a megawatt, according to New Energy Finance. Using those figures, Iberdrola’s Dobrogea project in southeastern Romania on the Black Sea would cost more than $2 billion.
A spokesman for Iberdrola Renovables in Spain, who declined to be identified in line with company policy, wouldn´t comment on the investment needed.
Iberdrola’s total net investment last year was 2.06 billion euros, the company said in a February presentation to investors. Iberdrola has a “flexible approach to investment” and has only committed to spend 9.6 billion euros of the estimated 16 billion-euro net investment planned through 2012, the company said at the time.
Prices for turbines fell about 18 percent last year and wind farm operators like Iberdrola are benefiting from the lower costs, said New Energy Finance’s Young. European Union policies to help reduce dependence on fossil fuel-based power generation a
re also an incentive for the project, he said.
Iberdrola reported installed capacity at the end of last year of about 44,000 megawatts, of which natural gas-fired plants account for 30 percent, renewable energy 25 percent and hydropower stations 23 percent. Iberdrola Renovables plans to increase its installed capacity to 16,000 megawatts by 2012 from 11,294 megawatts at the end of March.
Like FPL, Iberdrola has grown to be one of the world’s largest investor-owned utilities partly because of rapid expansion in wind energy. Wind and biomass are typically the cheapest sources of renewable energy and plants using them can be built faster than large-scale solar or geothermal installations.
The company, ranked by megawatts of wind-energy in operation, is followed by Juno Beach, Florida-based FPL and China Guodian Corp. of Beijing, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Iberdrola’s American depositary receipts in the U.S. fell 11 cents to $34.70 as of 5:10 p.m. New York time.
The Dobrogea complex will dwarf Whitelee, Europe’s current record-holder, a 322-megawatt wind installation near Glasgow that is owned by Iberdrola’s Scottish Power unit. Whitelee is scheduled to be expanded to about 600 megawatts in a few years.
The Cape Wind offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound would have capacity of 420 megawatts. The project, proposed by Energy Management Inc., has been fought by Kennedy, whose family owns a compound on the shores of Cape Cod.
Iberdrola’s Romanian partner is Eolica Dobrogea. That company, part-owned by Swiss engineering firm NEK Umwelttechnik AG and C-Tech Srl. and Rokura Srl., both Romanian, will secure building permits, Iberdrola said.
Pacific Light & Power will build a 10-megawatt solar thermal plant that will combine a trough solar collector from Spain’s Albiasa with a turbine traditionally used in geothermal systems.
Why? Ten megawatts is unusually small for a solar thermal field. BrightSource Energy, by contrast, wants to build one in California that will produce 396 megawatts of power. Most solar thermal systems, however, collect heat from the sun to turn water into steam and then feed the steam into gigantic turbines. The heat requirements and the size of the solar thermal fields mean that solar thermal parks can only be built economically in places like North Africa or Arizona where the sun shines almost every day of the year, lots of empty land exists, and humidity remains almost nonexistent. Even the presence of a few clouds can depress the power output.
Geothermal turbines swap water and steam for organic fluids like butane, which turn to vapor at lower temperatures. Thus, geothermal turbines require less heat, which in turn allows for smaller solar fields in a wider range of climates and geographies. Like traditional solar thermal systems, excess heat can be stored and run through the system in the evening or when cloud cover descends.
Jesse Tippett, the managing director of Albiasa, likens it to thin-film solar panels. The underlying technology may not be as efficient but it can generate energy in a wider variety of circumstances.
When completed in 2011, the plant — located on the island of Kauai — will provide close to seven percent of the power needed on the island.
Alibasa and PLP describe it as a hybrid plant, but it’s more of an unusual concatenation. Generally, hybrid plants are power plants that combine renewable energy generation — like solar thermal systems or biogas burners — with gas turbines to provide more baseline-like power. Florida Power and Light and Abengoa are currently building hybrid plants.
Power from the plant will be “close to Hawaiian (grid) parity,” he said, which means expensive. Electric power in Hawaii costs around 25.78 cents a kilowatt hour, the highest rate in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration. Hawaii generates most of its power from diesel generators. But Albiasa will study ways to bring the cost down to make these systems feasible elsewhere.
It’s true, sort of. The mechanical meters that still adorn the sides of most homes in the U.S. are inaccurate slightly more often than smart meters, but it is not enough of a discrepancy to account for the wildly higher bills that have incensed customers.
Recent side-by-side testing by Oncor, the energy delivery company in Texas that has recently been battered with reports from irate customers, found mechanical and smart meter readings were somewhat close.
Oncor says it has not found a single smart meter to date that is inaccurate (except for about 1 percent that were installed incorrectly). However, about 5 percent of mechanical meters tested are usually found to be off.
Just how off is off? Oncor spokesman Chris Schein said nearly all of those meters were running slow, but generally they were only lagging behind by a few percent (mechanical meters are considered accurate within 2 percent). Thus, 5 percent of meters were lagging by a few percentage points. Some utilities have reported instances of outright fraud, i.e., customers figuring out the schedule of meter readers in their areas and disabling the meters when they aren’t around. Fraud, though, is likely somewhat rare and isolated.
Itron, which formerly produced mechanical meters and now makes smart meters, said that older instruments generally have a lifespan of about 30 years before they start to slow down.
Even if nearly 150,000 of 3 million Oncor customers may be getting a break on their bills due to slow-paced meters, the aging infrastructure does not explain the extreme hike in bills with the switch to advanced metering.
“You’re not going to have that kind of spike,” Schein said. Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman Paul Moreno was also quick to point out that only a small percentage of analog meters were running slow when tested and are replaced afterwards.
Unseasonable temperatures, poor choices in home heating and cooling along with a lack of customer education are just some of the reasons utilities say people have seen a price increase with smart meters. Higher rates and temperatures could have occurred before the meters were installed, but the fact that the smart meters came in at the same time goes a long way toward explaining why many customers are clamoring for their old meters. Even though Oncor has done a small side-by-side testing of old versus new, it is obviously not enough to appease people who have seen their bills double or triple recently. Any reasoning for high bills by PG&E has also not instilled confidence in consumers.
Old-fashioned meters also come with built-in familiarity. They may not be perfect, but at least consumers have never had many reasons to question them.
Mentioning the slight inaccuracy of mechanical meters is only a disservice to customers who are obviously angry (and ill-informed in some cases) about what smart meters can do to help them take control of their energy usage. As of right now, it looks like there’s still an uphill battle to convince people that they should want to take control of their energy use in the first place, hence the recent announcement of a consumer group for smart grid.
If smart meter rollouts do not come with the demand pricing and software that allows people to better understand and tweak their home energy use from day one, accompanied by the education to allow people to embrace the technology, then it is easy to see why an aging mechanical meter looks as good as a smart meter.