Renew On Line (UK) 69

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 169 Sept-Oct 2007
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. UK takes a lead on offshore wind  

2. Biofuels – good or bad?  

3. Tidal Surges - and wave too 

4. After the Energy White Paper 

5. Energy Policy developments 

6. Domestic Energy plans go awry 

7. New Waste Recycling plan 

8. World Developments  

9. EU Developments  

10. Around the world  

11. Nuclear developments 

10. Around the world  

$168m ‘Solar America’ Initiative  

The US Dept. of Energy (DOE) has announced funding of $168m over three years for 13 projects developing solar technology, as part of the Solar America Initiative, which aims to make solar competitive with conventional electricity  by 2015. Samuel Bodman, DOE secretary, said ‘Solar technology can play a crucial role in moving toward affordable net-zero energy homes and businesses, which combine energy efficiency and renewable energy produced on-site.  Efficient buildings with solar power generation can help reduce peak demand and ease the need for expensive new generating capacity, transmission and distribution lines as our economy grows.’

The DOE says that the Solar America Initiative will enable an expansion of the annual US PV manufacturing capacity from 240 MW in 2005 to 2.85 GW by 2010.  ‘Such capacity would also put the US on track to reduce the cost of electricity produced by photovoltaics from current levels of $0.18-0.23/kWh to $0.05-0.10/kWh by 2015’. That would make PV competitive across the US.

The $168m will go to industry-led teams that will contribute additional funding, bringing the total to $357m over three years. Over 50 companies, 14 universities, three non-profit organisations and two national laboratories will participate. Projects will be led by Amonix, Boeing, BP Solar, Dow Chemical, General Electric, Greenray, Konarka, Miasole, Nanosolar, Powerlight, Practical Instruments, SunPower and United Solar Ovonic. The teams will concentrate on areas such as:  

*high-concentration PV systems for utility markets  

*high-yield multicrystalline silicon systems  

*integrated PV technologies for roofing products  

*bifacial high-efficiency silicon cells  

*PV modules with long-life inverters for residential use *organic photovoltaics  

*automated/high-volume manufacturing techs  

For more see our Technology Section. 

US Congress Gored  

Addressing two Congressional subcommittees, ex Vice-President Al Gore, said that human-caused global warming constitutes a ‘planetary emergency’ requiring an aggressive federal response. He proposed a 10-point legislative programme, including a tax on carbon emissions and a ban on incandescent light bulbs.  “The planet has a fever  If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don’t say ‘I read a science fiction novel that says it’s not a problem’. You take action.” (he’s not a Crichton fan it seems!). However he has been having problems taking action at home. He was challenged for having a very large energy guzzling house. But zoning rules in his Tennessee neighbourhood had prevented him from installing solar panels on his roof- there is a ban on stand-by generators in the area and this was initially interpreted to include solar, though evidently this ruling has now been modified and he’s going ahead.     Sources: NYT,  AP 20/3/07


US CSP solar 

Concentrating solar power (CSP)  using focused mirrors, could generate power competitively in the USA, but that would require $1.5-$2bn in incentives over 14 years, says the  Dept of Energy. The National  Research Council had earlier called  for CSP work to be halted, since it felt cost cuts were unlikely. DOE clearly felt differently.

Meanwhile, the  American Solar Energy Society says that CSP plants in the SW states of the USA ‘could provide nearly 7,000 GW of capacity, or about seven times the current total U.S.electric capacity’.

See our Features,  Renew 169, for TRECs plan.


Green Binge 

Over the next decade 30% of the USA corn crop will be used to make ethanol, up from 20% now, while Brazil is expected to double ethanol production from cane in 5 years.  But OPEC warned that, if biofuels expand, it might retaliate and cut investment in new oil production- pushing up petrol prices.


UAE goes green 

The United Arab Emirates, the fourth largest OPEC oil producer with about 10% of the known reserves, is seeking to become a center for the development and implementation of clean energy technology. The New York Times reported that, last year, the emirate launched the Masdar Initiative (masdar is Arabic for ‘source’), which has signed up major oil & technology companies, and universities around the world to help develop & commercialise renewables.

The NY Times (18/3/07) noted that the Masdar Initiative ‘has drawn up a $250m Clean Technology Fund, and begun construction of a special economic zone for the advanced energy industry. Last month, Abu Dhabi announced plans to build a 500MW solar power plant in the area- one of the most ambitious of its kind in the world. The plant will be the Persian Gulf’s first, to be built in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Power and Water Authority, generating enough power for up to 10,000 homes. It should be operational by 2009, either as a stand-alone or as part of a desalination project.’  

Masdar also has ‘an even more ambitious project to develop a graduate-level research center in combination with MIT. that will be focused on renewable energy technologies. Scientists who join the program will be able to attend MIT courses in Boston and will be assisted in developing research and courses at Abu Dhabi. In a decade, Masdar’s executives and MIT’s administrators predict, Abu Dhabi is likely to have expertise in solar energy, photovoltaics, energy storage, carbon sequestration and hydrogen fuel.’

The NY Times noted that some other Arab countries have also backed renewables. ‘The Bahrain World Trade Center project in Bahrain includes wind turbines that, developers say, will meet up to 35% of the project’s power needs. In North Africa and in countries like Jordan residents have been encouraged to adopt solar heating to save energy costs.’

Green Japan  

According to the International Energy Agency, Japan’s energy consumption as a percentage of gross domestic product is the lowest in the world. In an interesting article in the Boston Globe (March 26), Renée Loth reports  that ‘as an island nation with no domestic oil supply, Japan offers a glimpse into the world’s energy future, when oil reserves decline to unsustainable levels and alternatives are the only alternative’. Loth notes that the per capita energy consumption in Japan is nearly half that in the US, but the per capita incomes are roughly the same.  

Part of the reason is technological success.  Overseen by NEDO, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, four of the world’s five largest producers of solar panels are now Japanese, Sanyo commanding 24% of the market.  Roth notes that, in addition to an efficient railway system, there are also tax deductions for consumers who buy ‘green tech’ appliances and cars; a ‘top runner’ label for environmentally friendly companies; a ‘warm biz’ and ‘cool biz’ campaign that sanctioned the removal of suit jackets by businessmen in order to keep air-conditioned offices no cooler than 68F; and a ‘minus 6% team’ for citizens to join to help Japan meet its Kyoto goal of a 6% emission cut by 2008-2012, on the way toward 20%.  Roth says the USA had better learn from them since ‘sooner or later, we are all Japan’.

NATTA/Renew Subscription Details

Renew is the bi-monthly 30 plus page newsletter of NATTA, the Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment. NATTA members gets Renew free. NATTA membership cost £18 pa (waged) £12pa (unwaged), £6 pa airmail supplement (Please make cheques payable to 'The Open University', NOT to 'NATTA')

Details from NATTA , c/o EERU,
The Open University,
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Tel: 01908 65 4638 (24 hrs)

The full 32 (plus) page journal can be obtained on subscription
The extracts here only represent about 25% of it.

This material can be freely used as long as it is not for commercial purposes and full credit is given to its source.

The views expressed should not be taken to necessarily reflect the views of all NATTA members, EERU or the Open University.

We are now offering to e-mail subscribers a PDF version of the complete Renew, instead  of sending them the printed version, should they wish.