One huge source of energy is the potential to exploit the difference in water temperature between the surface of the ocean and deep waters. The temperature of the water on the surface of the sea is usually significantly warmer than at the ocean depths. This temperature difference can be productively used for generation of electricity.
The technology, known as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), involves pumping the warmer surface water through a heat exchanger. The heat thus captured is then used to evaporate a low boiling liquid such as ammonia, and the pressure created by the vapourised gas can then be employed to drive turbines for the production of electricity.
For this process to work efficiently, the temperature difference between the surface water and that at the ocean depths needs to be at least 20 degrees Celsius. This difference is commonly encountered in tropical oceans. If the temperature difference is greater than the energy, production can increase substantially. Indeed for every additional degree difference, a 15 percent increase in energy production is obtained. This interesting technology can provide continuous, stable and reliable energy round the clock, unlike wind or solar energy that depend on the weather.
The feasibility of this process has been demonstrated in several pilot plants, and it will soon be commercialised. Lockheed Martin, Vanuatu, Xenesys, Pacific Otec and some other companies are in the process of developing commercial projects at suitable locations where sizeable temperature differences exist between the surface of the oceans and deeper waters. The first plants with a capacity of 10-15 megawatts will be installed by 2014, and will be followed by plants of 100 megawatts or greater capacity.
There have been spectacular advances in solar cell technologies in recent years. One substance that holds great promise is ‘graphene’. This amazing substance is one of several crystalline forms of carbon that include diamond, graphite etc. It is tougher than diamond and yet stretches like rubber. It is about 200 times stronger than steel and about 150 times thinner than a human hair. It is so strong that you could suspend an elephant on a thin strand of this material and it would not break! It consists of a single layer of carbon atoms – one atom thick – in a honeycomb lattice structure. Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”.
Normally silicon is used in the manufacture of commercial solar cells. It now turns out that graphene could prove far more efficient in transforming light into energy. This was established in a study carried out at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Spain which found that solar cells made with graphene could offer up to 60 percent solar cell efficiency – this is about four times the efficiency of the present commercially available solar cells. Graphene turns out also to be an excellent conductor of electricity, even better than copper. This is leading to the development of many applications in the electronics industry.
Paper thin computers and televisions are presently under development based on this ‘miracle substance’. Indeed South Korean researchers have created a 25inch flexible touch-screen using graphene. Tomorrow your daily newspaper may be made of it too, which may be instantly updated by pressing a tab on the side. Harold H Kung at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University has reported a method to extend the battery life of lithium ion batteries by 10 times using a grapheme-based anode.
A considerable effort is being directed at developing better batteries and other energy storage systems. Existing batteries often fail because of the damage caused to the electrodes in them over a period of time by the movement of ions. A new electrode (made from nano-particles of copper hexacyanoferrate) has been developed by Stanford researchers and uses nanotechnology to construct an open structure for the electrode. This permits ions to move in and out without damaging it. The electrode seems to be a wonder material for use as a high-voltage cathode.
Novel ways are also being developed to utilise wind energy. In many parts of the world we find large windmills, each with three huge blades generating electricity. These wind turbines are not very efficient since about half the air does not go through the blades but around them, with a resulting loss in their capacity to generate electricity.
FloDesign, a US based company, has now developed a new generation of wind turbines that rely on the design used in jet engines. These turbines have propeller blades that are much smaller but produce more electricity as the air is directed through the turbine by a surrounding shroud. Small turbines that will produce 10 kilowatt power will be initially manufactured and they will then be followed by megawatt capacity turbines.
A problem associated with micro wind turbines is that they must work well in both light and high winds, for instance under stormy conditions when they should not spin too fast. In the case of the larger wind turbines, the design of the blades takes care of this problem, making them stall under very high speed wind. This is done through sensors that send signals to attached computers which in turn adjust the turbine speeds. This is too expensive a solution. However, nature is often the best teacher. The stability of dragonflies even under high wind conditions provided critically important clues.
The dragonfly is very stable in its flight, even under high wind speeds. This is due to the special design of its wings which are thin and flexible, and have small protrusions on their surfaces. These protrusions create a number of swirling vortices that contribute to the extraordinary aerodynamic stability of the dragonfly. Based on this, the Akira Obata of Nippon Bunri University in Japan has invented a micro turbine which is far better than those available previously.
Pakistan needs to concentrate on solving its energy problems by utilising its existing resources of coal, water, wind, and the recently discovered shale oil and shale gas.
A reader has rightly pointed out that all the electrical appliances produced in Pakistan are ‘energy inefficient’. For example our fans, tube-well motors and roadside workshop machines use heavy starting current and also consume much more electricity than American, European, or even Chinese appliances.
When one considers the millions of fans, tube-well motors and road side workshop motors in the country, one gets some idea of how much energy is being wasted because of the improper enforcement of quality standards, particularly those relating to energy efficiency, in those industries that manufacture such motors and appliances. Similarly most of our vehicles, especially locally manufactured bodies of trucks and buses, are energy inefficient.
The writer is the president of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences and former chairman of the HEC. Email: email@example.com
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Wednesday that the government’s hands were tied and it was forced to increase electricity prices, DawnNews reported.
Addressing party workers at his residence in Raiwind, the premier said the government would reduce the electricity tariff after completion of new power projects.
Last week, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) federal government had notified a massive increase of over 70 per cent in power tariff to be effective from November 1.
A tariff revision was made through the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on directives issued by the Supreme Court earlier this month.
Sharif said that the government had launched an operation against power theft to overcome the electricity shortage.
He said the energy crisis had become a major challenge which badly affected the economy adding that the government was fully committed to overcome it during its five years constitutional term.
Speaking about an ongoing operation to restore law and order in Sindh’s provincial capital Karachi, the premier said the government was not under any political pressure to conduct targeted operations.
He said citizens of Karachi were satisfied with steps taken by the government to rid the city of criminal elements and extortionists.
He moreover said that the PML-N government had assumed charge over the nation in difficult times, adding that it wanted lasting solutions to the problems faced by the country.
The premier said the government would undertake tough decisions to enforce law and order in the country.
“We are going to take bold decisions for the sake of restoring peace and maintaining law and order in Karachi and everywhere in the country,” he said.
The prime minister appreciated the performance of law enforcement agencies in Karachi which, he said, had decreased to some extent crimes like kidnapping for ransom, targeted killings and extortion.
Sharif said the government had taken all political parties on board for preparing a common agenda to eradicate terrorism from Pakistan. He said the dialogue process was adopted to restore peace and hoped that the efforts of talks would be successful.
“By the grace of Allah Almighty, we are determined to make a bright future of Pakistan through hard work to come to the expectations and aspirations of the people” he said.
With continued energy demand growth in Pakistan, it will be increasingly difficult to meet the demand with domestic sources and Islamabad will have to increasingly rely on imported energy sources, the Asian Development Bank’s Energy Outlook 2013 revealed on Monday.
In the business as usual (BAU) case, the primary energy demand for Pakistan is projected to increase from 84.6 million tons in 2010 to 145.8 million tons in 2035, growing at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, it showed. With this growth, Pakistan’s per capita energy demand will reach 0.59 tons per person as compared to that of 0.49tons in 2010.
Meanwhile, with the deployment of advanced technologies, around 10.3 percent of the primary energy demand (or 15 Mtoe) could be saved by 2035 in the alternative case, according to the outlook.
Diversification of the energy supply source away from natural gas and imported fuel oil, in addition to securing necessary financial sources and an enabling environment for building energy supply infrastructure, will be the important elements for energy security of Pakistan.
Pakistan has proceeded with the demand side energy efficiency improvements and consistently implements policy and measures for energy efficiency improvement across the sectors.
According to the report, despite economic rebound, the energy shortages have been constraining economic growth. Pakistan is faced with domestic energy supply shortages of coal, oil and natural gas, as well as a shortage of hydro generation capacities. These fuel constraints have severely affected the power sector, resulting in a significant decline in the power production — some generators were unable to operate at their installed capacity.
At its peak, the gap between electricity demand and supply was as high as 40 percent (ie, 40 percent of the demand could not be met).
Securing energy supply sources of natural gas, oil, hydro, and coal will be critical for Pakistan’s economic growth. Currently, Pakistan is self-sufficient in natural gas — the main energy source to meet its primary energy demand — while domestic production will decline from the current 38.4 billion cubic metres (bcm) to 13bcm in 2035 and Pakistan will have to start importing natural gas sometime after 2015.
Some projects are now being planned, such as for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from Qatar and pipeline imports from Iran or from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan. Oil import dependency may rise to nearly 90 percent by 2035, if domestic oil production is maintained at a constant level. In contrast, coal import dependency will decline to 20 percent in 2035 from 67 percent in 2010. Coal production is projected to increase from the current 1.4Mtoe to 9.7Mtoe by 2035, with the expanded production from the Thar coalfield.
Additionally, Pakistan is endowed with potential new and renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass and their contributions will be important, as well, to diversify the energy sources, the outlook showed.
Nevertheless, the prospects of their making inroads into the energy market in Pakistan are small in the BAU case because the policies and measures are not in place to incentivise the private sector.
Pakistan has substantial energy savings potential with the deployment of advanced technologies for the energy savings. In the alternative case, Pakistan’s primary energy demand will increase at an annual rate of 1.8 percent through 2035.
The power sector represents the biggest energy savings potential at 6.5Mtoe in 2035, followed by residential and commercial at 4.8Mtoe, industry at 2.2Mtoe and transport at 1.5Mtoe.
In the alternative case, Pakistan’s electricity generation in 2035 will be around 16 percent lower at 192 terrawatt per hour (TWh) in 2035 as compared to that of the BAU case at 230TWh. Substantial savings in total generation in 2035 will result from electricity demand savings in the industry, residential and commercial sectors.
Despite lower electricity generation requirements, it will be almost twice the 2010 level, it concluded.
The PML-N government is investing the largest ever amount of Rs 200 billion in the energy sector in Southern Punjab, while the project is the biggest one in the history of the country.
This was claimed by Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, while visiting proposed site of the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Energy Generation Park at Toba Noor Sar, Cholistan Desert, on Saturday.
The chief minister said that the project would not only provide electricity to Bahawalpur and Punjab but also provide employment to educated youths and open new vistas of progress in the region.
To the PPP’s claim of being the biggest political force in Southern Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif said that the PML-N’s landslide victory in the Bahawalpur region had falsified the claim and now it was his duty to do his best to bring prosperity in the region.
He added that more projects would also be started for the development of the area in future.
He announced that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would inaugurate the unique 1000 megawatts project, which would be completed in mid March next year and its transmission to the national grid would start the same day.
Criticising the previous regime, he said that the ill-planned policies of the PPP government in the power sector were the main cause of energy crisis and collapse of the transmission system in the country.
He urged the media to highlight efforts being made to end energy crisis so that the people should know these efforts. About the political status given to Hamza Shahbaz by the Punjab government, the chief minister said that Hamza Shahbaz had been given the Punjab leadership because he had been twice elected MNA apart from being his son.
Earlier, the chief minister was briefed about the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Energy Generation Park by Commissioner Asadullah Khan and the Punjab Energy secretary.
They said that the park would be built on 10,000 acres and its generation capacity was 1000 megawatts. “It will be completed in three phases and the first phase will be completed in mid March,” they added. A large number of parliamentarians belonging to the Bahawalpur region, government officials and PML-N workers were also present.
Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif with Chinese experts will visit the site for the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Energy Park at Toba Noor Sir Badwaniwala near Chak/8-BC, Cholistan, at 8am here on Saturday.
Later, he will meet parliamentarians belonging to Bahawalpur and address a gathering of PML-N activists. The solar energy park is being established on 10,000 acres in Cholistan Desert for generating 1,000 megawatts of power in the first phase. It is a joint venture of the Punjab Energy Department and a Chinese power company. Earlier, the chief minister was to visit the site on Monday, but the visit was postponed till Wednesday. However, he could not visit the site on Wednesday. Meanwhile, people have expressed their concern over the delay in selecting the land and putting off the chief minister visit repeatedly.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Sindh government and the STFA Yatirim, a Turkish company, on Friday for developing a wind power project in the province.
Agha Wasif Abbas, the provincial energy secretary, and Mehmet Orhan Unalan, the STFA project development director, signed the document at a ceremony at the Chief Minister’s House.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali shah, Adviser to the Chief Minister on Finance Murad Ali Shah, Turkish Consul General in Karachi Murat-M Onart, Turkey-Pak Business Council Vice Chairman M Riza Arsan and other diplomats and officers of the provincial government attended the ceremony.
The Turkish company will conduct studies for setting up wind masts at the site that it will identify within two months.
It will also give a schedule for the implementation of the project.
After the survey is successful, the company will set up a wind power generation project in accordance with the maximum wind potential available at the project site.
Under the memorandum, the provincial government will facilitate the company in identifying feasible sites for the wind study and expropriate the desired piece of land for the installation of wind masts and hand over to the company the proposed piece of land as the site for the project.
The chief minister said Sindh was exclusively blessed with a wind corridor that had a massive energy production potential.
“In order to exploit this natural source, the Sindh government is providing all required facilities to investors under the one-window operation,” he added.
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