Energy Watch


Green coffee processing generates energy

A project called Energy from Coffee Wastewater in Central America is harnessing the greenhouse gases coffee production creates for both cooking and industrial use. Traditionally, waste water from coffee pollutes soil, reduces the quality of rural communities’ drinking water and affects marine life in coastal areas, as well as generating methane.

The Energy from Coffee Wastewater project has installed bio-gesters to create biogas for cooking at three farms in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, where the new treatment systems have been set up.

Solomon Islands villagers maintain own solar panels

Islanders in rural villages in Solomon Islands are being tutored in basic solar panel maintenance. Since 2013 the government has been extending solar power on Malaita, the South Pacific nation’s most densely populated island, as off-grid solar is becoming an increasingly important source of power for communities. But maintenance of solar panels can be expensive and it often takes days for engineers to arrive in the villages. 

Training has begun for women and men in basic solar panel maintenance. Twelve women and eight men in the west of the Malaita province have undergone training so far. Some of the women participating in the project have even started their own solar panel businesses in the villages.

USA invests in solar projects

US President Barack Obama is to throw his weight behind a programme of energy efficiency measures across the USA, backed by US$68 million of investment. The Department of Agriculture will finance 540 renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in rural areas, following an earlier announcement that the White House will be getting its own solar panels.

The measures should reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 300 million metric tons by 2030. A spokesman said that the solar project would generate “enough energy to power thousands of homes – as well as energy efficiency investments that will lower energy bills for more than 400 million square feet of buildings”.

Renewable energy sees record investment in 2014

A solar boom in China saw the country’s renewable energy use jump 16 per cent in the third quarter of 2014, compared to usage in the same period the previous year. So says Bloomberg’s latest Renewable Energy Investment Report.

China has built several utility-scale photovoltaic projects and a transmission grid, which together saw investment of $12.2 billion. Chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Michael Liebreich, said: “It is heartening to see investment heading for an up year in 2014 after two down years.”

Japan’s renewable energy use was also up by 17 per cent, due to investment in solar energy, while Canada, France and India have also seen leaps in investment.

Pakistan builds huge solar energy park 

Construction of a new solar energy park has begun in the Pakistan desert, in response to the country’s energy crisis. Pakistan struggles to supply sufficient energy for its people – frequent electricity shortages mean that many households are without electricity for up to 18 hours a day. Some have little access to electricity at all – a World Bank report found that 44 per cent of Pakistan’s households are not connected to the electricity grid in rural areas.

The Punjab government has now spent £3 million installing initial infrastructure for the park, which is set to be the largest of its kind in the world.

Partially funded by the Chinese government, £36.5 million has been given to the Punjab government for this project. The first phase, should be completed by 2015.

California scientists reach fusion milestone

Scientists from California claim they are close to being able to use nuclear fusion to provide an inexhaustible energy supply for future generations. By using lasers to compress fuel pellets, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has produced significantly more energy from fusion reactions in its experiment than the energy typically found in fusion fuels. Nuclear fusion is a reaction that takes place when atomic nuclei collide at high speed, fusing together and releasing energy in the process. Fusion, if scientists succeed in harnessing it, offers the prospect of unlimited energy without pollution.

University announces world’s first solar battery

Researchers have created a solar-powered battery at Ohio State University, which they claim will reduce the price of renewable energy by 25 per cent. The invention has been designed by combining a battery and solar cell into one hybrid device.

The battery, uses a process that transfers electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Professor Yiying Wu, said: “The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy. We’ve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost.”

Britain gets go ahead for new nuclear plant

The UK is to get a new £16 billion nuclear power station, the first of a new generation of nuclear plants.

The Hinkley Point C Project, which will contain two reactors of 1.6 GW each, was approved by the EU’s Competition Commission in late 2014. Preparatory work has already begun at the site, where the new reactors will join the existing Hinkley Point A, which is being decommissioned, and Hinkley Point B, which will continue operations.


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