Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
Scotland has approved ten marine energy projects that leaders predict could provide electricity for one-third of the nation’s homes by 2020 and make Scotland the world leader in wave energy.
The government awarded leases to companies to construct six wave energy projects and four tidal project off the Scottish coast in what experts say would be the first developments of their kind on a large commercial scale.
Construction would cost £4 billion ($6.1 billion) and require another £1 billion ($1.53 billion) in government funding to upgrade the national electric grid. But First Minister Alex Salmond said tapping into the resources of Pentland Firth, a strait north of Scotland that is known for its strong tides, can make the country the “powerhouse of Europe.” (more…)
Friday, March 12th, 2010
(Reuters) – British Columbia has given the green light to 19 private-sector clean energy projects that will generate enough power to supply nearly 218,000 homes in Canada’s Pacific Coast province.
The approvals, announced late on Thursday by BC Hydro, the government-owned electricity utility, mark the first phase in the provincial government’s long-delayed push to generate more green power.
Fourteen of the 19 proposals are 14 run-of-river hydroelectric projects, in which river water is diverted through turbines to produce power without the use of dams. The remainder are wind power projects. (more…)
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
(Reuters) – A Web application that alerts wine grape farmers when their vines are thirsty has won first place in a competition to spur entrepreneurs in the investment-starved water sector, organizers said on Monday.
Fruition Sciences, which operates in both California and France, came first among 50 teams in Imagine H2O’s global competition aimed at building a “Silicon Valley” for water.
Water is a $500 billion business worldwide, but draws a mere 0.5 to 1.0 percent of venture capital and only a handful of investments per year despite growing demand for solutions to widespread water shortages. (more…)
Monday, November 30th, 2009
An Irish university has launched the world’s largest hydro-electric wave energy converter off the coast of northern Scotland.
The so-called Oyster is a mechanically-hinged flap that is embedded into the sea floor — at a depth of about 32 feet (10 meters) — and moves with the motions of the waves. That wave energy pumps high-pressure water to a shore-based electric turbine.
Power will be fed into the national grid and provide electricity to homes in the Orkney islands. Researchers say a farm of 20 Oysters could eventually provide enough electricity to power 9,000 three-bedroom homes.
Monday, November 9th, 2009
A UK-based renewable energy company has received a $61 million grant from the Australian government to build the world’s first utility-scale wave power project.
Ocean Power Technologies will begin construction of the 19-megawatt project in the waters off Victoria in 2010. The project will provide enough electricity to power 10,000 homes.
Wave technology uses buoys riding up and down on waves to drive an electrical generator, and then sends the power ashore via underwater cable.
Monday, October 26th, 2009
Turkey’s alternative energy potential is huge, but it remains locked – at least so far. Earlier this month, Ankara hosted the International Energy Congress on Renewable Energy where the Turkish energy sector was the main discussion point. The congress attracted a record number of participants from public and private sectors, including the Turkish Minister of Energy and members of the country’s Parliament. It was once more observed that the potential of investments in Turkey is by far exceeding the enthusiasm of the bureaucrats and the readiness of the Turkish infrastructure.
Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
In spite of the Pacific Northwest’s reputation for environmental leadership, short-sighted opponents of hydroelectric power struck a blow last week when Oregon-based utility PacifiCorp agreed — under duress — to decommission a series of hydroelectric dams in the Upper Klamath River along the Oregon-California border.
Power from the dams is used to serve electrical load in Oregon and Northern California. Without the dams in operation (the licenses were extended to 2020 when they are to be shut down) PacifiCorp will have to find a way to replace the renewable, emissions-free energy that the dams provided.
Regulators were joined by dam protestors in contending that the quest for new power can be done in a way that does not damage the environment anymore or put too much of a dent in consumers’ pockets. And things are certainly expected to go swimmingly for the salmon populations that the dams threatened.
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
The number of small hydropower projects in the U.S. is increasing as utilities try to avoid concerns about the environmental impact of large dams, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission now has applications for 14,000 megawatts of hydropower projects — enough to power 7 million to 14 million homes — and most are located on small rivers, streams, and creeks. That figure is a 20 percent increase from two years ago.
As the number of projects grows in states such as Washington, Colorado, and Montana, environmentalists are beginning to raise objections to the small dams, which critics say can still block fish runs, interfere with whitewater rafting trips, and carve up wilderness habitat with roads, power lines, and other infrastructure.
Monday, August 10th, 2009
For thousands of years, the native Aymara people have been harvesting scarcely fallen raindrops along the Andean foothills in northern Chile by capturing the rainwater in nets for irrigation and drinking purposes. The people in this region, in and around the Atacama desert, are accustomed to fragile ecosystems and an extremely dry climate. However, today, even in the fertile central and southern regions of Chile, there are noticeable tensions over water rights and water availability.
Presently, it is not as if there are times when nothing flows out of the tap here. Nor are the urban folks of Santiago running outside their homes with their own polypropylene mesh nets ready to catch any drop of rain that falls. However, a convergence of factors – an increase in population growth, perceptible changes in climate patterns, and competition for water resources between various industries and hydro power – have caused a national “war over water” of sorts to emerge at the forefront of national environmental, economic, and political discussions.
Monday, July 20th, 2009
The earth is the water planet, so it should come as no great surprise that forms of water power have been one of the world’s most popular “renewable” energy sources. Yet the largest water power source of all – the ocean that covers three-quarters of earth – has yet to be tapped in any major way for power generation. There are three primary reasons for this:
The first is the nature of the ocean itself, a powerful resource that cannot be privately owned like land that typically serves as the foundation for site control for terrestrial power plants of all kinds;
The second is funding. Hydropower was heavily subsidized during the Great Depression, but little public investment has since been steered toward marine renewables with the exception of ocean thermal technologies, which were perceived to be a failure.
The third reason why the ocean has not yet been industrialized on behalf of energy production is that the technologies, materials and construction techniques did not exist until now to harness this renewable energy resource in any meaningful and cost effective way.