DECENTRALIZED SOLAR ‘THE ANSWER TO SUMMER LOAD PEAKS’

Decentralized, solar-generated electricity could be answer to growth in European electricity demand in summer, particularly to deal with consumption peaks caused by weather conditions, which in turn cause supply interruptions – according to Dr Winfried Hoffmann, President of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

Writing in the EPIA monthly newsletter, Dr Hoffmann says: ‘Electricity demand in summer is constantly increasing year after year. But the current electricity networks, highly centralized, are not adapted to face strong consumption peaks. Solar electricity can very well be the answer to this growth in electricity demand in summer. Actually, the output from photovoltaic (PV) systems exactly corresponds to the time when stronger demand is observed due to the air-conditioning consumption.’

Photovoltaic energy is a decentralized source of energy, therefore close to end-users’ needs, adds Hoffmann. This avoids network transmission problems, especially during periods of peak consumption. In addition, solar generators produce more electricity as the intensity of light increases, particularly around noon. ‘With PV systems designed to face needs at peak power times, and good energy planning in urban areas, solar electricity can very well support disruptions on electricity networks,’ adds Hoffmann.

However, solar electricity is not yet competitive, even with peak power prices, and may not be until around 2015, according to EPIA projections. Solar electricity is an ideal complementary source of energy, being both very flexible and absolutely decentralized. So it should be promoted, adds Hoffmann.

FIRST PRIVATELY FINANCED MUNICIPALITY CHP TO RUSSIA

Finland’s Wärtsilä has been awarded a €10 million contract to deliver a 17 MW CHP plant to the city of Eisk in southern Russia. The plant, which consists of two Wärtsilä 20V34SG gas engine-driven generating sets with heat recovery systems, is to be delivered in spring 2007.

After more than three years of development with Russian investors and financial institutions, OOO Eisk TES was finally able to secure the necessary financing from Russia.

This is a remarkable step for Russian municipalities, says Wärtsilä, proving that it is possible to obtain private investment for their power projects there. For more than 12 years, Russian government investments into the power sector have mainly focused on grid maintenance and capacity replacement for large centralized power plants. These investments have not included smaller municipalities and consequently, they have been unable to upgrade their power and heating systems, adds the company.

In order to speed up the refurbishment of the power sector, the Russian government is currently promoting private investment into the power industry. The Eisk plant serves as a sign of this new policy, being the first Russian privately financed and privately owned CHP plant to be built. The town will buy all its electricity and district heating from the plant.

CHINA’S POWER SECTOR REFORMS – WHERE TO NEXT?

‘With its rapid rate of expansion, China’s power sector is unique. At the same time, it shares many challenges that other countries have long grappled with: how to reflect the full costs of generating electricity in prices to consumers while increasing access to this essential commodity? And how to reduce the environmental burdens of generating power?’ So said Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) at the launch of: China’s Power Sector Reforms: Where to Next?

This new IEA study is published at a time when China is deliberating on a new comprehensive energy law, as well as revisions to its electricity law. Since China first embarked on an effort to gradually liberalize its power sector, great progress has been made: separating generation from transmission and improving distribution systems, experiments with wholesale markets are getting off the ground, and an increasingly independent regulator has taken its place in the Chinese administration. ‘China should be congratulated for this’, Mandil said, stressing, however, that ‘important challenges remain. Too much electricity is wasted by consumers and by networks, so too many power plants are being built to meet this demand. Too much fuel is wasted in generating power, and too much pollution is released as a result.’

The report assesses ways to mitigate the tensions between rapid economic expansion and protection of the environment, and the promotion of greater equity. While keeping an eye on the long-term goals for the power sector, it contributes mainly to the debate on actions to take in the next few years. ‘While no country has yet found a perfect solution, there is already clear evidence of the benefits that can be derived from competitive power markets, and this should remain the long-term goal’, Mandil said.

Steps can also be taken quickly to make power prices more reflective of actual costs – sending strong signals to investors to choose more efficient equipment and fuels, and to consumers to use electricity more wisely. Cleaner power plants also need to be used – generation performance standards and higher pollution fees would increase the likelihood of cleaner plants being built.

UK GOVERNMENT ‘FAILING’ ON CHP TARGET

Publication of the UK Government’s Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2006 (DUKES) continues to document the Government’s weak performance in achieving its UK CHP target of 10,000 MW of operating CHP capacity by 2010, claims the UK CHP Association.

DUKES reports that 5792 MW of CHP was installed by the end of 2005, with only 108 MW of new net capacity added over the year. CHPA Director Phil Piddington complained of Government inaction: ‘Ministers have stated publicly this year their strong support for the CHP target. However, both the Climate Change Review and the recently released Energy Review failed to introduce any new measures to drive forward the CHP sector. Increasing energy prices are helping boost the interest of consumers in small-scale CHP opportunities – such as those already operating in over 1000 building applications, including hospitals, hotels and leisure centres, across the country. However, the statistics indicate that the development of new industrial-scale CHP projects continue to face difficulties.’

‘At the same time, because of the power sector’s increasing use of coal and oil, as documented by Government, every unit of power offset by CHP helps reduce UK carbon emissions in ever increasing amounts. When compared directly against conventional fossil-fuelled generating plant, CHP is helping save 4.9 million tonnes of carbon each year.’

‘Government must help return confidence to investors to exploit the massive CHP opportunity the Government themselves have identified. The current deliberations around the second phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme provides a powerful opportunity to incentivize the CHP sector. If Government fails to send a very clear signal supporting the growth of CHP within this framework, the industrial CHP market, in particular, will continue to suffer.’

HOW GREEN ARE UK POWER COMPANIES?

Of the six large power companies operating in the UK, Scottish Power is doing the most and EDF Energy the least to respond to the challenge of climate change, according to a new WWF-commissioned report: Generating Climate Change, which ranks the UK’s six largest power companies according to their performance on greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The companies analysed in the survey, carried out by independent energy consultants Innovest, were: Scottish Power, E.ON UK, Scottish and Southern Energy, RWE npower, Centrica and EDF Energy. Scottish Power and Centrica were identified as leaders on renewable energy investments, the energy efficiency ranking was topped by EDF Energy and Scottish Power showed the best reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions have risen by 15% since 1997 – the biggest single reason why the Government is off track to meet its domestic climate change targets, according to the WWF. In 2005, the power industry emitted 46.8 million tonnes of carbon, 30% of the UK’s total emissions and more than any other sector.

FUEL CELL SWITCHES BETWEEN TWO FUELS

FuelCell Energy, Inc. has announced the successful demonstration of its stationary power plants’ ability to switch rapidly between fuels, validating the systems’ capacity to guard against fuel supply interruptions from natural disasters or security issues at mission-critical facilities.

Evaluated in conjunction with Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), operators of the Department of Defense (DoD) Fuel Cell Test and Evaluation Center, the power plant continued to generate baseload electricity on a secondary fuel supply (propane) when the loss of its primary fuel source (natural gas) was triggered during testing. This rapid fuel switch was successfully demonstrated more than 40 times during operations exceeding 3000 hours.

The R&D project is being sponsored by the US federal government to demonstrate the dual fuel capability of ‘Direct FuelCell’ (DFC) power plants. FuelCell Energy and CTC operated a sub-megawatt DFC power plant on HD-5 propane fuel at full load, achieving an electrical efficiency of 46%. The Johnstown plant continues to operate, having accumulated a total of more than 3000 hours on propane and generated 425 MWh of electricity as of June 2006. The plant also operated 550 hours on natural gas – generating an additional 45 MWh.

‘HOME POWER PLANT’ WINS EURO GAS APPROVAL

Disenco Energy Plc has won ‘GAD approval’ for use of its micro-CHP units in Europe – meaning that the product has been approved as compliant with the essential requirements of the European Gas Appliance Directive.

The Disenco Home Power Plant, a dishwasher-sized micro-CHP unit simultaneously produces up to 15 kW of heat and 3 kW of electrical energy, and operates using the company’s patented technologies. The company is currently running field trials in the UK to progress towards commercial market penetration in 2007/8.

Disenco says that its technology, based on the Stirling engine, has been developed over 20 years with more than £12 million (€17.5 million) spent to date in R&D. The system’s design life is approximately 15 years; it will weigh around 70 kg and will be nearly silent.

VENEZUELAN TELECOM CO. TO USE FUEL CELL SYSTEMS

Venezuela’s Telefónica Móviles, one of the two largest wireless providers in Latin America, is to begin deploying Plug Power’s ‘GenCore’ fuel cell back-up power systems. The initial deployment includes nine fuel cell systems that were purchased through Plug Power’s Venezuelan distributor, Corpo Teletecnical. The systems will be placed at tower locations with critical back-up needs in the greater Caracas area.

This new deployment follows the completion of a successful eight-month trial at an active Telefónica Móviles wireless location outside of Caracas. The GenCore system responded effectively to several grid outages during the trial period, including one that lasted approximately 12 hours, says Plug Power.

Telefónica Móviles has approximately 700 towers in Venezuela and more than 10,000 sites across Central and South America. Richard Croce, Energy Manager of Telefónica Móviles in Venezuela identifies candidate sites for GenCore use as those where there is insufficient space for additional batteries or a generator, or where generators are prohibited due to noise or pollution issues or weight restrictions.

Plug Power is also participating in GenCore trials with Telefónica Móviles in other key markets, including Mexico, Brazil and Spain.

NEW BIOENERGY CHP PLANT FOR GERMANY

Poyry’s Energy business group has been awarded an owner’s engineering contract by Fernwarme Ulm GmbH of Germany, for the design and construction support of a new CHP bioenergy plant. The total value of the contract is €1.5 million.

The project site is in the city of Ulm in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, about 100 km south-east of Stuttgart. The construction phase is estimated to last over two and a half years. The commissioning of the bioenergy plant is envisaged to take place in winter 2008/2009.

ON-SITE WIND-PV SYSTEM FOR LONDON’S BUILDING

London is to get its first combined photovoltaic and on-site wind turbine system, following the granting of planning permission by Southwark Council to the London Climate Change Agency to install wind turbines to add to the photovoltaic cells on the roof of the new ‘Palestra’ building. And the project might extend to a fuel cell trigeneration scheme in the future.

Three floors of the building are about to become the headquarters of the London Development Agency and the London Climate Change Agency. The renewable energy generated by the system will provide electricity to these floors.

The project comprises an 84 kW renewable energy system – a combination of 63 kWp of photovoltaic panels on the roof and 21 kW of 14 building-integrated wind turbines also on the roof. The project is being funded and implemented by the London Climate Change Agency, which was established by the Mayor of London last year to tackle climate change through promoting renewable and sustainable energy.

Allan Jones, Chief Executive Officer of the London Climate Change Agency, said: ‘This is the first project of its kind in the UK and shows how London is at the forefront of creative solutions to tackle climate change. It demonstrates that, even in a multi-occupied building, it is possible for a tenant to take control of their own energy supply and reduce carbon emissions. Any building or organization in London can follow this example.’

A feasibility study for a fuel cell trigeneration system is also underway which, together with the renewable energy, would supply all of the energy needed by these floors: electricity, heating and cooling.

MICRO-CHP UNIT FOR THE UK MARKET ‘BY 2008’

UK boiler manufacturer Baxi Heating UK has signed anagreement with micro-CHP and Stirling engine technology company Microgen Energy to develop,produce and distribute a micro-CHP appliance, initially for the UKmarket. The partnership will use Microgen’s expertise incogeneration product design utilizing a ‘free piston Stirling engine’ (FPSE) to bring the product to the UK residential market in 2008.

Incorporating Baxi’s latest condensing-boiler technology with Microgen’s Stirling engine, advanced controls and micro-CHP combustion technology, the unit will have two burners to convert natural gas to heat, hot water and electricity. One burner will heat the Stirling engine to provide heat and hot water, simultaneously generating electricity. The second, supplementary burner will provide more heat in high demand periods.

With outputs of over 1 kW of electricity and 15 kW to 36 kW of heat, the unit will also be capable of modulating down to just 5 kW of thermal output, optimizing efficiency and power generation, says the company. Additional electrical demand will be taken from the national grid as normal, and any excess power not used by the household will be exported back to the grid.

Using a micro-CHP unit will reduce the typical homeowners’ annual energy bill by approximately 25% compared to a conventional boiler, says Baxi, and carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by up to 1.5 tonnes per household per year.

The company has already launched a solar thermal heating package for domestic hot water, ground source heat pumps, and biomass boilers to offer a range of microgeneration products to the UK.

PORTUGUESE TYRE COMPANY CHOOSES CHP

UK-based Centrax Gas Turbines has won an order from Portugal to supply a generator set to the Continental Tyre plant in Lousado, north of Porto. A CX 501-KB7 DLE (Dry Low Emissions) package has been sold to Enerlousado, a special-purpose Joint Venture contract energy management company between Finerge and TP (Sociedade Termica Portuguese S.A.).

The 5.2 MWe package is powered by the Rolls-Royce 501-KB7 gas turbine which is coupled to an oversized 15 kV generator. The size of the generator will help to counter any instability of supply from the Portuguese electricity grid, says Centrax.

The generator set will be coupled to a new waste heat recovery boiler for the production of steam which Enerlousado will sell to the Continental Tyre factory for use in the tyre-making process. At the same time, the electricity generated will be exported to the local grid.

NEW CHP PLANT FOR SAN FRANCISCO’S PYRAMID

Distributed Energy Systems Corp. subsidiary, Northern Power, has been awarded a US$3.4 million contract by AEGON USA Realty Advisors to design, install and commission a 1.1 MW CHP system for the landmark Transamerica building at 600 Montgomery Street in San Francisco, California. The 48-storey building, managed by Lowe Enterprises and known as ‘the Pyramid’, is located in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district.

The new CHP system will comprise two 560 kW natural gas-fired reciprocating engine generators, which will operate in parallel with the utility’s downtown network grid. The two generators are designed to provide approximately 70% of the electrical requirements of the building. Recovered waste heat from the engines will be used to heat the building, displacing 100% of the steam currently purchased for heating purposes. Additionally, waste heat will drive a 320-tonne absorption chiller that will be installed to create chilled water for the building.

The project marks Northern Power’s third CHP system that will be interconnected with Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s downtown network grid.

The higher fuel efficiencies to be realized by the CHP system qualify it for an incentive rebate from the Self-Generation Incentive Program of the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) that would reduce the installed cost of the system by over 15%.

Mark Novack at AEGON USA said: ‘We expect Northern Power’s CHP system to help us achieve three key objectives: to strengthen our environmental commitment, deliver annual energy savings, and increase the competitiveness of AEGON’s property in the downtown commercial office market.’

BRITAIN’S CARBON TRUST LAUNCHES BUSINESS TO RECYCLE INDUSTRIAL HEAT

Britain’s government-backed Carbon Trust has launched a commercial subsidiary company, Connective Energy, to begin to use some of the waste heat produced at UK industrial sites by supplying it customers. The three-way joint venture is with Mitsui Babcock Energy Limited and Triodos Renewables.

The Trust says that about 45% of the UK’s industrial primary energy consumption is currently wasted as heat released into the environment, and that 40 TWh of this wasted heat could be reused. This is equivalent to the heating needs of Greater Manchester, and represents a core market potential of up to £1 billion (1.45 billion) a year with an annual carbon saving potential of 7.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Connective Energy will capture this wasted heat at source and transfer it in the form of steam or hot water to other industrial or public sector consumers in the same area, providing a stable, low-cost heat supply. The joint venture will identify, develop, finance and operate the pipeline infrastructure required to capture and transfer the heat, says the Trust.

The new business will be one of several Carbon Trust enterprises to be established to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy in the UK and demonstrate the business opportunities this creates.

Mitsui Babcock will provide the technical knowledge and expertise to the venture, while Triodos Renewables will deliver financial expertise.

One of Connective Energy’s prospective first customers is Wienerberger Ltd, a brick manufacturer with factories throughout the UK. The new enterprise would supply waste heat from a nearby small power station to the dryer chambers at one of Wienerberger’s factories in Warnham, West Sussex.

FIRST HALF OF 2006 IS WARMEST ON RECORD FOR THE US

According to preliminary data for the first half of the year, 2006 is shaping up to be the warmest on record for the US, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The average January to June temperature for the continental US was 11.0°C, or 1.8°C above the 20th century (1901-2000) average. Five states (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri) experienced record warmth for the period and no state was near or cooler than average.

Globally, the year is shaping up to be the sixth warmest year to date (January-June) at 0.5°C above the 20th-century mean.

IN BRIEF…

The UK Government has given permission to Immingham CHP LLP to increase the capacity of the gas-fired CHP station at Immingham in North Lincolnshire from 760 MW to 1230 MW.

US hydrogen and fuel cell company the Hydrogenics Corporation has received an order for three HyPM XR 12 kW fuel cell power modules to be integrated into a 48 V DC back-up power application for use by a leading mobile telecom company in Asia. Hydrogenics’ proprietary modules require only hydrogen fuel to produce DC electrical power.

WASTE GASES TO FUEL TURBINES AT CHINESE STEEL MILL

US-based GE Energy is to modify the combustion and fuel systems of two Frame 6B gas turbines, enabling the machines to burn purified coke oven gas (COG) for power generation in a project at a Chinese steel mill. Work is to be carried out under an agreement with the Eurofo International Group, a Chinese ‘green energy’ company.

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The two Frame 6B gas turbines have been operating on heavy fuel oil in a power plant in Dalian of Liaoning Province. Following the GE modifications, the two units will be installed at a new Eurofo combined-cycle plant in Xiaoyi city, Shanxi Province. The new combined-cycle plant’s output will be approximately 113 MW, using COG as the primary fuel, and NOx emissions will be held under 39 ppm, says GE.

The refurbished gas turbines will be shipped in June of 2007 and commercial startup of the gas turbines at the new combined-cycle plant is expected by July of 2007.

‘Eurofo has been working on environmental protection projects in China for some time,’ said Jack Wen, President of GE Energy China. ‘With support from the government, they searched for a solution to better utilize wasted coke-oven energy and reduce coke-oven gas emissions such as methane. This project is a great example of how gas turbine solutions can help cogeneration plants and steel mills improve efficiencies while reducing energy costs and environmental impact.’

European energy management company Dalkia has secured a further energy plant operation and maintenance contract with the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK. Since 1997 the company has enabled the Trust to make significant savings on its energy provision and maintenance of the CHP plant, and delivered stable heating, electricity and hot water supplies.

The Trust, which operates two hospitals, originally appointed Dalkia in response to concerns about growing unbudgeted repair costs of its gas turbine and because of the risks associated with operating this and other auxiliary steam raising plant. Under the new contract, Dalkia manages and maintains the CHP and energy plant across the two hospital sites. The site is manned 24 hours a day by a permanent team of Dalkia operators and engineers.

PEAKING ON-SITE POWER SYSTEM FOR SÃO PAULO BUILDING

Cummins Power Generation has provided three gas-powered generator sets to both reduce the cost of energy during the peak demand period and to guarantee power availability in the event of a utility outage to the enormous World Trade Center (WTC) in São Paulo, Brazil,

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Since 2003, the power system has reduced electricity costs and improved reliability to such an extent that the WTC promotes the power system in its advertising for tenants. Opened in 1995, the WTC São Paulo complex includes the state-of-the-art WTC Business Tower, a hotel and one of Latin America’s most upscale malls, the D&D shopping centre.

In October 2003, the WTC São Paulo decided to install its own on-site power centre to help cope with rising energy costs, and chose Cummins Power Generation as the main supplier.

To provide peaking power for the enormous structure, the WTC São Paulo relies on three 1.75 MW lean-burn gas generator sets for a total generating capacity of 5.25 MW. In addition to the three generators, Cummins installed a digital master control for operating the power plant, switchgear, transformers, transfer switches, and a diesel generator with black-start capability to ensure the system would be able to start during a total power outage.

The main purpose of installing the generators was to reduce costs during peak times when electricity rates are at a premium – for three hours a day in the late afternoon and early evening, the price of energy to commercial users is very high. The new generator sets run Monday through Friday for three hours per day. During that time, the typical load varies from 3.5 to 4.9 MW, depending on which facilities are in use.

Another purpose of the generators is to provide consistent and reliable power. Utility power in Brazil is not very reliable, and there are often outages and fluctuations in voltage that affect equipment inside the building. Brazil has also suffered energy shortages in the past when rainfall has not been sufficient to support its largely hydroelectric generation systems.

When the generators are running during the peak hours, they are paralleled with the local utility. If there is a utility failure, the generators are automatically isolated from the grid and provide power independently. In the event of a major utility power outage, the installed generators are capable of powering the entire building; however, some load shedding would be required at certain periods of the day.