I continue to be knocked out by all the innovation and hard-driving progress in building out a zero-carbon world. I was telling a young man today, a very smart carbon offset development consultant, that I truly never thought, 15 years ago, that I’d live to see the day when we would have the activity and growth in renewables that we’re seeing now. I’ve written about this dozens of times at the blog. Here are some more great stories.
Turkey – There are two eye-catching stories coming from one Turkish construction giant in a special report from the “FT” this week. BM Muhendislik has revived a moribund hydroelectric project by addressing all the environmental concerns that had held it up for decades. “Key to achieving this is the replacement of the old design’s enormous dam with eight small cascade regulator units.” This means the same MW in power production, no flooding behind the project, full river flow below it preserving valuable wetlands, and an enhanced ability to regulate regional flooding problems. Sweet.
The other big project is a first-of-a-kind geothermal/concentrated solar power (CSP) hybrid. “The geothermal-solar plant would use geothermal steam to power a first series of generators after which the hot water, now below 100 degrees centigrade, would be reheated in a “solar tower” – a kind of vertical furnace heated by an array of large mirrors.” Unbeatable.
CSP – See Big Solar here from me on CSP, among some other places at the blog. Here is a good read on the state of affairs from the invariably indispensable Technology Quarterly from “The Economist.” CSP is cookin’ in the American southwest, Israel and Spain, among other places. BrightSource Energy, for instance, is actively developing more than 4 gigawatts. O brave new world.
Smart Grid – I’ve also written about this several times, including at my article for “Planning,” and think, based on a number of conversations, all the coverage, logic and numbers, that the smart grid is the future. In the same Technology Quarterly as the CSP article cited just above, here is a pretty comprehensive look at what is in play. Among the many pluses in the smart grid is the ability to manage distributed generation. “Moreover a smart grid will make it easier to co-ordinate the intermittent and dispersed sources of power, from rooftop solar panels or backyard wind-turbines, for example.” What’s not to love? “One problem is that power companies are understandably reluctant to invest in technologies that will reduce consumption of the product they sell, even if there are other benefits.” Solution? “One way to realign the public interest with that of the utilities is through a process called ‘decoupling’ which breaks the direct relationship between electricity sales and profits, a measure that has been successfully employed in California.” As my utility, Con Ed, says: “We’re on it.”
Floating Wind Turbine – Now I took our friends at one of the world’s more progressive big energy companies, StatoilHydro, to task recently for its involvement in one of the world’s worst environmental nightmares – see Alberta Tar Sands – Pressure is Building.
Let’s put that aside for the moment to look at their promising Hywind project, a 2.6 MW floating wind turbine. This kind of approach to windpower can potentially eliminate some objections such as noise, visibility, and proximity to sea lanes. It also saves you a ton of kroner in construction costs. Here’s a video from Reuters outlining Hywind. Party on.