Energy Watch

Trends around the world

World’s first tidal array surges ahead

Tidal power generated off the Scottish islands of Ork­ney is now supplying elec­tricity to one of the islands as tests of the new technology continue. The 1MW HS1000 tidal turbine, developed by Norway’s Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, was installed in the fast-flow­ing waters around Orkney last December.

The technology will be used by Iberdrola-owned ScottishPower Renewables as part of the ‘world’s first tidal turbine array’ in the Sound of Islay. The company’s proposal for a 10MW array received planning consent from the Scottish government last year.

Based on a mixture of technology used in traditional onshore wind turbines, subsea oil and gas production, and in hydropower plants, a prototype device has been generating electricity in Norway for over six years. Stein Atle Andersen, managing director of Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, says that the testing cov­ers endurance, availability and reliability for asserting a proper basis for developing com­mercial tidal energy power plants.

Air Canada flies high with cooking oil

In June, Air Canada flew an Airbus A319 from Toronto to Mexico City tanked up with a 50/50 mix of regular aviation fuel and biofuel made from recycled cooking oil.

The biofuel was made to jet fuel stand­ards by Dutch firm SkyNRG. Along with the use of biofuel, the airline took a number of other measures to maximise the aircraft’s efficiency on the test flight. These included a pre-flight fuselage wash and wax to im­prove aerodynamics, an engine compres­sor wash, runway taxiing using only one engine, minimised use of the on-board auxiliary power unit by relying on ground-supplied power at the airport gates, and re­duced thrust on take-off. In order to save weight, the airline installed a lightweight aisle carpet and equipped the pilots with iPads instead of their usual stacks of paper flight documents.

The experiment was conducted with sup­port from Airbus, as part of the Internation­al Civil Aviation Organization’s Flightpath to a Sustainable Future initiative, timed to coincide with the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Natural gas set to boom

China will more than double its consumption of natural gas over the next five years while the USA will benefit from low­er gas prices, and will even be exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG), over the same period, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).  “The Golden Age of Gas has dawned in North America, but its continued expan­sion worldwide depends on producing gas and bringing it to the market in a way that is friendly to investors and society as a whole,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven during the launch of the report.

Development of new resources is expect­ed to lift gas demand in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Most incremental gas pro­duction will come from Central Asia and North America. Further growth in ‘uncon­ventional gas’ will come mostly from shale gas in North America and coalbed methane production elsewhere. Shale gas develop­ments in other regions are likely to be con­centrated in China and Poland.

German renewable energy plans need coordination

Germany’s plans for a tran­sition to 100 percent renew­able electricity generation by 2050 have been criticised for a lack of coherence by some of the country’s largest energy companies. There is particular concern about the pre­paredness of the renewable industry to take the place of nuclear stations, which are to be entirely phased out within ten years.

Conventional power generation resour-ces risk being stretched to support the exist­ing renewable installations, said the head of E.ON Generation, Bernhard Fischer, at the POWER-GEN Europe Conference in Co­logne in June. This is because conventional plants will have to compensate for the inter­mittency of wind and solar generation.

Fischer added that the government’s new policy was not technically impossible but that it had to be implemented correctly. He was particularly critical of the decision to withdraw from nuclear energy. Thorsten Herden, manag­ing director of the German engineering federa­tion, the VDMA, emphasised that infrastruc­ture and capacity should be developed together but that this had not happened in Germany.

Meanwhile, the German Advisory Coun­cil on the Environment has recommended an alliance with Scandinavian countries that includes converting hydroelectric pow­er stations to pump storage systems.

New interconnectors

The world’s longest submarine power cable is to be laid across the North Sea to link the power sectors of the UK and Nor­way by 2020, according to an agreement signed between the UK’s National Grid and Norway’s Statnett. The cable could eventually form part of a North Sea supergrid, a project favoured by the European Union.

Interconnectors provide a means of man­aging the increasing proportion of intermit­tent renewable energy supplies coming on stream in the years ahead. The UK already has interconnector links to France and the Netherlands, and more are under construc­tion, as for example between Wales and Ire­land, and between England and Scotland. The UK has even been negotiating with Iceland over the possibility of a 1,000 km connection that could carry power from the latter’s abundant geothermal sources.

Battery buses take to the roads in the UK

Battery-powered buses that can each carry more than 50 passengers have entered service in Coventry, UK. The Versa EV buses were handed over in June to the company that operates Coventry’s ‘park and ride’ scheme by the manufacturer Optare. The buses are supported in service by a fast-charging sta­tion that can charge electric vehicle batter­ies to full capacity in less than two hours compared to the standard six to eight hours from a normal charger.


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