MORE NEWS, 1-28: WHERE CAPE WIND STANDS (AND DOESN'T); 1ST STIRLING SOLAR POWER PLANT A GO; STEALTH BLADE AND THE RADAR ISSUE; SOLAR-SPEW PLANT HYBRID
WHERE CAPE WIND STANDS (AND DOESN'T)
Cape Wind's fate unclear, even in Obama's hands
Jay Lindsay, January 24, 2010 (AP via Washington Post)
"After eight years of review, the future of a controversial wind farm off Cape Cod now rests in what would seem to be [the Obama administration’s] friendly hands…But it's tough to tell if Cape Wind's prospects just got better or worse.
"Obama has never mentioned the project…Some Cape Wind advocates have chalked up Obama's silence to respect for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, an early and influential Obama backer. Kennedy battled the project fiercely, writing Obama of his opposition the month before he died…Obama's Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who pledged this month to decide whether to approve Cape Wind by the end of April, has called it "a good project." But two Obama appointees…have links to its chief opposition, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound…[though they] are recused from any decisions involving Cape Wind…The Obama administration is awaiting the Interior Department's Cape Wind review before taking a position…"
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Jason Jones 180 - Nantucket|
"Cape Wind, expected to cost $1 billion, aims to provide 75 percent of the Cape's electricity with 130 turbines, each about 440 feet tall, erected in Nantucket Sound. Its developers stand to benefit as a major electricity provider to a state aiming to create enough wind power capacity to power 800,000 homes by 2020…Opponents say the project is a hazard to aviation and wildlife and would mar historic vistas, including the view from the Kennedy compound. They want it moved out of the sound to an alternate site Cape Wind says is not feasible.
"Since he took office, Obama has spoken several times about [the value of onshore and offshore] wind energy…Barbara Hill of the pro-Cape Wind group Clean Power said she finds Obama's silence on Cape Wind [confusing] because its success is so crucial to future offshore wind projects…Sue Reid, an attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation and a project proponent, said she believes Obama is simply being careful not to prejudge the project before the approval process ends…"
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"On July 8, Kennedy and U.S. Rep. William Delahunt wrote Obama and asked him to postpone any decision until Cape Wind was subjected to new ocean zoning rules still being devised by Obama's national Ocean Policy Task Force…The task force has since said its rules are "not meant to delay or halt" existing projects, but such projects are expected to take the "goals and principles" of the marine zoning rules into account…Kennedy also asked Obama to direct the task force [to protect Nantucket Sound]…
"The sound was ruled eligible for that protection on Jan. 4…That ruling brought the prospect of more delay and prompted Salazar to intervene. If he approves Cape Wind, a few smaller issues would remain, including review by the FAA, headed by [Randy] Babbitt. He has worked as an alliance consultant on its claims that Cape Wind could interfere with airplane radar signals… [but] has been recused from any involvement in Cape Wind decisions…Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said the project will ultimately succeed on its merits, which were validated over years of review…[It could be] the only offshore wind project [built] during Obama's term."
1ST STIRLING SOLAR POWER PLANT A GO
Stirling Solar Goes Live: How Does it Compare to Mirrors?; Sixty solar dishes go live in Arizona. Let the debate begin.
Michael Kanellos, January 23, 2010 (Greentech Media)
"Which solar thermal technology works best? The debate will soon begin in earnest...Developer Tessera Solar has created a 1.5 megawatt power plant out of 60 SunCatcher solar thermal devices from Stirling Energy Systems. Later this year, Stirling will go into volume production which will enable Tessera to break ground on commercial scale solar plants in California (one 750 megawatt plant and one 850 megawatt plant) and Texas (a 27 megawatt plant).
"The prototype 1.5 megawatt power plant comes after a few delays and a financial glitch for Stirling…[N]ow that the plant is up, Stirling will be able to compare the results its gets from its Stirling engines [with] heliostat prototype power plants erected by eSolar in Southern California and BrightSource Energy in Israel as well as parabolic trough systems…[already] commercially deployed…[Trough and heliostat technologies] collect solar heat on mirrors and use it to heat fluid. The warmth causes the fluid to expand, which creates pressure that gets exploited to crank a turbine."
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"The SunCatcher is made up of a giant parabolic dish of mirrors (40 feet across) to concentrate the sun onto a receiver called a "power conversion unit (PCU)." Sunlight heats up the hydrogen gas in tubes in the PCU, and the gas goes through a heat exchanger to run a four-cylinder Stirling engine. The engine then drives a generator to produce electricity…Stirling engines [go] back to 1816, when Robert Stirling in Scotland designed [and built] the first machine…to pump water from a quarry."
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"Each 25-kilowatt SunCatcher is its own mini electricity-generating unit…Stirling has claimed that its system is the most efficient: a prototype converted a record 31 percent of the energy striking it into electricity. Stirling engines, however, transfer heat through the air. The others transfer heat through liquid. As a result, [the SunCatcher has no] mechanism for storing heat…Which one of these works best in which sort of environments will be one of the big issues for the solar thermal world.
"And there are other solar thermal ideas emerging as well: HelioFocus (high temperature Stirling engines linked directly to turbines)…beam down concepts…[and concentrating photovoltaic concepts]…"
STEALTH BLADE AND THE RADAR ISSUE
"Stealth" wind turbine blade may end radar problem
Stuart McDill (w/Anthony Barker), January 27, 2010 (Reuters)
"The development of a "stealth" turbine blade, based on military technology, may help overcome the problem of wind farms interfering with aviation radar systems…The issue of turbine blades confusing radar operators [can account for as many as half] the objections to wind farm planning applications…
"…Vestas Wind Systems is experimenting with stealth technology, developed to help warplanes escape notice, to reduce a turbine blade's radar signature…[Blade tip speed is near that of small planes, confusing radar operators]…The confusion is caused by radar bouncing off moving wind turbines, creating a cloud of reflected signals…[A plane in the cloud of signals could be lost on radar]…"
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"Global wind power capacity is now more than 120 gigawatts (GW), according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), and Vestas says as much as 9 GW of potential wind power is on hold because of objections by civilian, military and marine radar operators…In [the UK] the problem has led…[to objections] to more than 5GW worth of planning applications…[it has prevented development in the U.S. as well]…"
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"Three potential solutions are under consideration, including a software fix and efforts to 'factor out' whole wind farms…The Vestas solution [-- exactly the same technology as a stealth bomber or a stealth fighter but specially tuned so aircraft can be differentiated from wind projects -- ] has to be carefully implemented to make sure aircraft will still be aware of turbine blades…
"The British Wind Energy Association welcomed all development efforts but said a range of solutions are needed…As GWEC estimates of the number of wind farms increasing on average by 30 percent per year, the problem of crowded skies is likely to make a solution to the problem ever more important."
SOLAR-SPEW PLANT HYBRID
CSP-retrofits: A medium-term solution?; Power generators are under increasing pressure around the world to reduce their environmental impact. Bolting on solar capacity to existing conventional plants is one option on the table. But do the arguments for solar augmentation add up?
Oliver Balch, 21 January 2010 (CSP Today)
"The southwest of the United Sates is to set to host two pioneering solar augmentation projects… Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association…[will] commence construction of the twin demonstration projects in 2011, with operations set to start “by 2014 or sooner”.
"The larger of the two projects will be based at NV Energy’s Chuck Lenzie natural gas combined cycle plant. Located north of Las Vegas, Nevada, the 1102MW facility will have a 95MWe solar installation added…to integrate with the plant’s high-pressure stage…[enabling] the plant’s steam turbine to produce the same amount of electricity from less natural gas…[O]ne of the largest proposed integrations in the world, the project will be equipped with a superheated steam design that boosts the efficiency of the solar component."
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"The second demonstration project will be located at Tri-State’s 245-MW Escalante Station, situated in Prewitt, New Mexico…[A] 36MWe solar field [will be added] to the coal-powered plant…The hybrid model will test main steam integration, using solar-derived steam to displace coal-derived steam in the boiler…[again allowing] for the same electricity output with less coal consumption…If successful, it will mark the world’s first large-scale CSP project for mainstream pulverised coal power generation…
"…[O]ther solar augmentation proposals…[include the] Florida Power and Light…75MW parabolic trough project at its combined cycle gas-fired Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Centre [due in] 2010…Around a dozen more retrofit projects are currently under consideration in the United States, the Middle East and Europe…[including] a 1MW experiment plan by Xcel Energy to enhance the capacity of its Cameo coal plant through [parabolic trough technology] CSP…[In] New South Wales, Australia…US-based Ausra Fresnel reflector solar steam generators [are tesing] with existing coal-fired thermal plants…"
Another alternative. (click to enlarge)
"…[T]he argument in favour of [solar augmentation/retrofitting] has yet to be proven…[In recent research by US solar specialists WorleyParsons Group and EPRI] compact linear Fresnel reflector (CLFR)… was found to be [less successful than towers or troughs because]… the typical operation temperature of the technology measures no more than 270°C. This limits the efficiency of the integrated system and results in fewer integration options…Central receiver technology, on the other hand, boasts temperature outlet levels of up to 600 °C…[enabling] superheated steam to be added to the system, thereby increasing the integration options for coal plant steam cycles…[In] trough technology, the synthetic oils employed in the process limit temperatures to around 380 °C…
"Should the technology prove itself, the potential advantages of retrofitting…[include reduced] fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions …[and] solar augmentation plans inevitably impact the design of a power plant…[but] are likely to generate far fewer regulatory hurdles… than a new hybrid or stand-alone CSP plant…Existing power plants are already connected to the grid, forestalling problems with access to transmission that new CSP plants often face…[and] power plants boast the available water resources for cooling purposes that CSP also needs…[Retrofitting] achieves higher thermal to electric conversion efficiency and potentially lower costs compared to stand-alone solar facilities…[and the] solar component implies access to renewable energy credit markets and other fiscal incentives…[Retrofitting]…enables power generators to add utility scale solar without the huge start-up costs of a stand-alone plant…"