First OTEC Plant Connected to US Grid

On August 21st a dedication ceremony at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kona was held to celebrate completion of the world’s largest operational ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) power plant. This was a major achievement for Hawaii, the U.S. and marine renewable energy. This test plant will generate 100 kilowatts of clean, continuous, sustainable electricity and is expected to be a stepping stone to larger plants that will be cost competitive options for electrical power for Hawaii and other island locations in Asia Pacific

OTEC uses the temperature difference between deep cold ocean water and warm surface water to boil liquid ammonia, which can then drive a turbine to generate electricity. It is estimated that ocean thermal energy conversion has the potential to generate over four times the total electricity usage of the planet.

See the Pacific Business News.

Category: Cool Tech

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New Solar Project Announcements

The past several months have brought a number of very positive announcements concerning new, utility scale, solar projects in three different Western states. Just yesterday SunEdison Inc. announced that it has begun construction on the 156-megawatt Comanche solar farm in Colorado, which will be the largest in the state. It will deliver power to Excel Energy Inc.’s Public Service of Colorado utility under a 25-year agreement. The plant will help Colorado meet its requirement per 2010 law that investor-owned utilities get 30 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

This announcement comes on the heels of two other solar project announcements in July: 1) start of construction on the 137 megawatt (MW) Springbok 1 Solar project about 70 miles north of Los Angeles, and 2) signing by SunPower of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with NV Energy in Nevada to build a 100 MW solar PV power plant near Boulder City, Nevada.

And finally, two announcements in June: 1) The Solar Star solar power plant, also located north of Los Angeles near Rosamond, California, with a total capacity of 579 MW, went fully online on June 19, 2015, making it the largest solar power plant in the world, and 2) SunPower has commenced construction of the 102 MW Henrietta solar power plant in Kings County, California.

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Watts Bar Unit 2 Nuclear Reactor Completes Hot Functional Testing

Nearly 43 years after construction began on the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, the Unit 2 reactor at the Spring City, Tenn., plant is nearly ready to begin power production. The latest round of plant assessments, called hot functional testing, demonstrated equipment performed as designed and nearly 60 important systems operated effectively together. Watts Bar operators used the heat generated by plant equipment to increase the temperature and pressure of systems to normal operating levels. The unit’s main turbine was also rolled up to normal operating speed using the plant’s steam. The next step is confirming integrity of the primary containment  and testing safety-related equipment, leading to an operating license and loading of fuel, currently scheduled for September.

See the article in timesfreepress.

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The EPA’s Clean Power Plan

On August 3, 2015, President Obama and EPA announced the Clean Power Plan. The plan’s  summary states: “Shaped by years of unprecedented outreach and public engagement, the final Clean Power Plan is fair, flexible and designed to strengthen the fast-growing trend toward cleaner and lower-polluting American energy. With strong but achievable standards for power plants, and customized goals for states to cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, the Clean Power Plan provides national consistency, accountability and a level playing field while reflecting each state’s energy mix. It also shows the world that the United States is committed to leading global efforts to address climate change.” Although the plan addresses a number of different strategies for addressing climate change, its primary focus is on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants with key goal to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the power industry to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. And to achieve this, the plan envisions a significant increase in renewable energy, in particular to replace coal plants that are the primary source of carbon dioxide emissions. Continue reading The EPA’s Clean Power Plan

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California approves bundling of distributed power to compete in wholesale electricity market

On July 16th the California Independent System Operator Corp. (ISO) became the first electrical grid operator in the US to approve small distributed electrical generation sources, such as roof top solar, energy storage and plug-in vehicles, to be bundled together in order to compete in the wholesale electricity market in the state.  What this means is that small system owners, who previously had no influence on the price they could get for excess electricity production, can now join together and compete in the open market if, in the aggregate, they meet a 0.5 MW generation threshold. “With the rapidly evolving grid and quantum growth in distributed generation, this framework for integrating smaller renewable resources onto the high voltage grid demonstrates a significant step in re-designing our energy future with lower carbon emissions and helping California meet its clean energy goals,” said ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich. “This proposal encourages innovation and entrepreneurs to explore opportunities within the wholesale market by combining resources that individually would be too small to participate on their own.”

The proposal approved by the board outlines how these energy resources aggregations would be metered and how scheduling coordinators will interact with the ISO through a single point of contact; however, detailed processes to implement the proposal still need to be developed and approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

For more details, see CA ISO Board.

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