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Siemens supplies CSP parabolic trouch receivers to India

Siemens Energy will supply its universal vaccum air collector UVAC 2010 solar receivers for a parabolic trough concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in Rajasthan, India, for Shiram EPC Ltd.

Siemens will supply over 17,000 solar receivers, which will generate all of the heat for the 50 MW CSP facility. Startup for the solar plant is scheduled for spring 2013.

The Abhijeet CSP plant is being constructed as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), the Indian Government’s ongoing programme for promoting solar power. The programme envisages installing up to 20 GW of solar power capacity in India by the year 2020.

“We view this first order from Shiram EPC Limited to be a demonstration of their trust in our know-how and technology,” says Shmuel Fledel, CEO of Siemens Solar Thermal Energy Business Unit.

“The Indian CSP market is rapidly developing, and with this step we strengthen our business for CSP technology.”

Siemens has already been awarded three orders to supply a total of four steam turbine generator units for solar thermal power plants in Rajasthan, including a steam turbine generator unit for the Abhijeet CSP plant.

FuelCell Energy and Air Products to market trigeneration stationary fuel cell power plants

In the US, FuelCell Energy has signed a memorandum of understanding with Air Products to work towards the market development of stationary Direct FuelCell® power plants that simultaneously produce hydrogen, ultra-clean electricity, and usable high quality heat.

Trigeneration Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) power plants generate hydrogen, ultra-clean electricity, and usable high quality heat at the point of use. Onsite hydrogen production from stationary fuel cell power plants offers a way to develop a broader hydrogen infrastructure.

Target markets for these trigeneration stationary fuel cell power plants include industrial hydrogen users, as well as vehicle fuelling applications.

‘Onsite or distributed co-production of hydrogen in a cost-effective and efficient manner from stationary fuel cell power plants represents tremendous market potential,’ says Ed Kiczek, Global Director of Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products.

The initiative seeks to develop a market for trigeneration megawatt-class power plants around the world. Industrial users of hydrogen can utilise all three of the DFC revenue streams: hydrogen, electricity, and heat.

Onsite or local production of hydrogen and electricity eliminates the delivery costs incurred by industrial companies, while enhancing security and reliability of supply.

‘By combining our industry-leading fuel cell technology and expertise with the market reach, hydrogen processing, and distribution capabilities of Air Products, together we can create the hydrogen infrastructure with a solution that is ready today,’ says Chip Bottone, President and CEO of FuelCell Energy.

‘Our stationary fuel cell power plants are quite versatile, and this initiative represents what we expect to be an efficient and cost-effective manner of providing onsite hydrogen production in an environmentally friendly manner,’ continues Bottone.

Distributed generation of hydrogen could help to enable hydrogen infrastructure development, by producing hydrogen in locations convenient for end-uses such as vehicle fuelling or industrial use. Fuelling operations or neighbouring facilities can utilise the ultra-clean electricity and high quality heat produced.

FuelCell Energy and Air Products are already working together on a three-year hydrogen production project in California, which began last summer. Under subcontract to Air Products, FuelCell Energy is operating a DFC power plant at an Orange County Sanitation District wastewater treatment facility near Los Angeles.

The project, funded in part by the Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California Gas Company, and also involving the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine, is providing renewable hydrogen for vehicle fuelling along with ultra-clean electricity.

The power plant efficiently converts biogas generated from the wastewater treatment process into renewable hydrogen for a nearby vehicle fuelling station operated by Air Products, as well as ultra-clean electricity used by the wastewater treatment facility.

DEGERenergie says solar CPV is “unprofitable in the foreseeable future”

DEGERenergie is stopping the production of its concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) tracking systems as it says “CPV is unprofitable in the foreseeable future” – analyst questions too-optimistic business plan.

“The increased yield which can be achieved with concentrator technology bears no reasonable proportion to the additional expenditure and does not justify the high development effort,” says Michael Heck, Vice President Sales & Marketing at DEGERenergie.

He adds that solar CPV modules has not really proceeded beyond the prototype stage, and that mass production is unlikely:

“A profitable business with these systems is unlikely in the foreseeable future. We will keep on concentrating on the optimisation of our systems on the basis of conventional photovoltaic technology. For this purpose DEGERenergie has allocated a research budget of €750.000 for the next 18 months.”

Technology or business model?

Renewable Energy Focus has been told by an industry analyst that: “The points [Heck] made are actually not far off of the mark. However I think that this is more about the company’s initially too-optimistic entry, than it is about CPV.”

US solar PV soared 109% in 2011

The US installed 1855 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, up 109% on 2010, according to the latest US Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

SEIA says 2011 is the first year the US solar market has topped 1 GW of solar PV installations in a single year – and the US solar market is valued at over US$8.4 billion.

The cumulative solar PV capacity in the US reached almost 4 GW by the end of the year.

The growth was spurred in part by declining installed solar PV system prices, which fell 20% last year on the back of lower component costs, improved installation efficiency, expanded financing options, and a shift toward larger systems nationwide.

In addition, the anticipated expiration of the US Government’s 1603 Treasury Program, which ended on 31 December, 2011, drove developers to commission solar PV projects before the end of the year.

No CSP, but CPV

While no new concentrating solar electric power (CSP) was brought online in 2011, a total of 10 concentrating solar PV (CPV) projects came online.

However, more than 1 GW of CSP is currently under construction, and cumulative CSP capacity has now topped 500 MW.

Larger installations

“In 2011, the market demonstrated why the US is becoming a centre of attention for global solar,” says Shayle Kann, Managing Director of GTM Research’s solar practice.

“It was the first year with meaningful volumes of large-scale PV installations; there were 28 individual PV projects over 10 MW in 2011, up from only two in 2009. Furthermore, the market continued to diversify nationally; 8 states installed more than 50 MW of solar each last year, compared to just five in 2010. These are all indicators of a vibrant market.”

The report finds that 800 MW were installed in the commercial sector in 2011, led by the California and New Jersey markets, compared to 758 MW of utility solar PV and 297 MW of residential solar installations.

Utility-scale project installations, primarily across states in the Southwest, nearly tripled 2010 totals.

In the residential sector, California installed 114 MW of solar, with New Jersey, Arizona, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Colorado each contributing meaningfully to the residential total.

More records in 2012

According to the US Solar Market Insight, 2012 will be another strong year for the solar PV industry, with installations of more than 2.8 GW forecasted. Beyond 2012, the report forecasts installations to continue their ascendancy at a compound annual growth rate of 30% through 2016.

“The solar industry is the fastest growing industry in America for the second year in a row. What we are seeing in the US is that policies are working to open new markets and remove barriers for solar,” says Rhone Resch, President and CEO of SEIA.

“The industry is now poised for years of multi-gigawatt growth and the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs. But we face a number of challenges that have the potential to slow this growth. That is why SEIA now coordinating the industry’s federal and state policy initiatives to present a unified, cohesive voice for the solar industry.”

Desertec and Japanese foundation cooperate on Asian supergrid

The Desertec Foundation and the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF) have entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote an Asian supergrid necessary for the expansion of renewable energy in Asia.

The aim of the MoU is to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, and the two foundations will exchange knowledge and know-how, and coordinate their work together to develop suitable framework conditions for the deployment of renewables and to establish transnational cooperation on a supergrid in Greater East Asia.

The vision is an interconnection of the national grids of Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, and Russia with high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines.

The Desertec Foundation says it sees this supergrid as an important step towards the implementation of its Desertec Concept in Greater East Asia and has already conducted a feasibility study on potential grid corridors to make best use of the region’s desert sun.

Dr Thiemo Gropp, Director of the Desertec Foundation, states: “The efficient use of the practically inexhaustible energy of the East Asian desert sun in combination with the expansion of renewable energies can sustainably improve living conditions for current and future generations in the region. It also offers Asian countries the chance to take a leading role in the fight against climate change by harnessing the most abundant of all energy sources on earth.”

Tomas Kåberger, JREF Executive Board Chair, adds: “Technologies to harness solar and wind energy have improved dramatically in the last few years. Combined with modern power transmission technologies, renewable energy can support the long-term economic prosperity of the region. Establishing an Asian Super Grid will be challenging and require a high-level of international collaboration but its benefits make it worth the effort. We are happy to be able to benefit from the experience of Desertec in this undertaking.”

JREF was founded in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident to prevent any further such events happening again. Its mission is to efficiently accelerate deployment of renewable energy in order to reduce costs and boost Japan’s economic development.

Suzlon launches 1.5 MW turbine for low wind sites in India

Suzlon Group is launching the 1.5 MW S8X wind turbine for Class III, low wind sites in India.

The S8X wind turbine is designed specifically for the Indian market where the majority of potential lies in medium-to-low wind sites, Suzlon says.

The rotors have diameters of 86.5 m and 89 m, and the tower measures 90 m. This could improve energy yields by 15-20% over the current S82 1.5 MW. The S8X is also designed for high temperatures.

John O’Halloran, President, Technology, at Suzlon Energy, says: “This marks an extremely important step forward in our product strategy. The S8X builds on our extensive operating experience with our highly successful S82 – 1.5 MW fleet in some of the most challenging environments in the world. The development programme drew extensively on feedback from our key customer groups – primarily PSUs and IPPs in India – to create a product that meets their current and future needs, and provides consistently improving returns on investment.”

Tulsi Tanti, Chairman, Suzlon Group, adds: “As the Indian wind market continues to grow at over 40% per year, we believe the S8X will be a game changer in the high-growth 1.5 MW segment – delivering higher reliability, uptime, energy production and ultimately greatly improved returns on investment to customers over its lifecycle.”

Alstom Grid implements smart grid solutions in Kuwait

Alstom Grid will implement fully integrated smart grid management solutions for the Kuwait Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW).

The project includes an upgrade of Kuwait town district control centre’s Energy Management System (EMS), a new Integrated Distribution Management System (IDMS) and an Asset Management System (AMS).

Through its e-terraplatform and e-terradistribution solutions, Alstom will create a single system for managing the medium and high voltage operations of the Kuwait Town District Control Center.

In addition to managing the real-time operations of the grid, the system access will be extended to maintenance departments to better manage MEW’s assets, review their health index, and decide on appropriate maintenance strategies.

Using International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC’s) Common Information Model (CIM) 61970 and IEC 61968 standards over a service oriented architecture, Alstom will combine the data and events from a variety of sources (grid operations, reliability analysis calculations, asset management functions, and maintenance coordination) into integrated processes at the enterprise asset management level.

Gamesa prototype wind turbine produces 104.6 MWh in one day

Gamesa’s G10X-4.5 MW prototype wind turbine, installed in Alaiz, Navarra, Spain, has set an energy output record for its type, generating electricity for 23.24 equivalent hours at nominal capacity (98.26% of the day), for a total of 104.6 MWh.

The Alaiz wind turbine is the second G10X-4.5 MW prototype Gamesa has erected in Spain with the aim of achieving the highest possible levels of availability, energy efficiency and network codes for this turbine system.

The wind turbine’s light weight, despite its 120 m tower and 62.5 m blades, makes it as easy to handle as a 2 MW wind turbine, Gamesa says.

CPR gets grant for solar PV cloud cover simulation

Clean Power Research (CPR) has been awarded a grant of US$850,000 from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to implement simulation tools to predict the variability of solar photovoltaic (PV) power caused by cloud cover.

 “Accurate solar forecasting is critical for integrating ever-larger PV fleets into the grid, yet the expense and difficulty of obtaining this information can be very high,” says Tom Hoff, President of Research and Consulting at Clean Power Research.

“This grant builds on our previous CSI RD&D research, allowing us to validate our PV simulation models and make them widely available through easy-to-use software tools. We’re honoured that the CPUC selected Clean Power Research to complete the next phase of this research.”

The simulation means developers and owners can make accurate estimation of power output and variability of a fleet of solar PV systems without the cost and complexity involved with direct monitoring.

Clean Power Research will also produce 1-minute, 1 km SolarAnywhere data for California, a requirement for calculating variability at the short time intervals typical for dispatching energy reserves. The solar PV simulation capabilities will be made available via software to support projects in distribution planning, smart grid operation, utility load scheduling, and balance area planning and operation.

The grant is part of a third round of funding from the CPUC’s California Solar Initiative Research, Development, Deployment and Demonstration (CSI RD&D) programme.

Participants in the solar PV cloud simulation project include: California Independent System Operator Corporation (California ISO), Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), University at Albany, SUNY, Electric Power Research Institute Inc. (EPRI), Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), and University of California, San Diego.

Launched in 2008, SolarAnywhere is a source of downloadable historical, real-time and forecast satellite-derived solar irradiance data for the continental US and Hawaii.

Ameresco and DoE opens US$795m biomass facility in SC, USA

Officials from the US Department of Energy (DoE) and Ameresco Inc have marked the start-up of a US$795 million biomass cogeneration facility at the Savannah River Site (SRC) in South Carolina, USA.

The 34-acre SRS Biomass Cogeneration Facility is said to be the single largest renewable Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) in US history.

The SRS Biomass Cogeneration Facility is replacing a deteriorating and inefficient 1950s-era coal powerhouse and oil-fired boilers, and could generate an estimated US$944m in savings in energy, operation and maintenance costs over the duration of the contract.

The biomass will be in the form of local forest residue and wood chips, and bio-derived fuels. The facility has the capacity to combust 385,000 tons of forest residue into 20 MW of clean power annually.

The biomass project has created around 800 jobs, spanning the mechanical, construction, engineering, and supplier sectors. Fully operational, the biomass plant will employ 25 full-time jobs on-site and support the local logging community.

DoE Under Secretary D’Agostino, says: “Projects like the SRS biomass facility are helping to deliver energy efficiency savings that benefit both taxpayers and the environment. Hundreds of people were put to work building this new facility that will save money, dramatically reduce emissions at the Savannah River Site, and help the Department to achieve our energy saving goals.”

DoE signed onto an ESPC with Ameresco in 2009 to finance, design, construct, operate, maintain, and fuel the new biomass facility under a 20-year fixed price contract valued at US$795m.

ESPCs are contracts in which private companies finance, install, and maintain new energy- and water efficient equipment at Federal facilities. The Government pays no up-front costs and the company’s investment is repaid over time by the agency from the cost savings generated by the new equipment. This allows the government to use the private sector to purchase more energy-efficient systems and improve the energy performance of their facilities at no extra cost to the agency or taxpayers.

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