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Wednesday, December 29, 2010


This is the time of year when everyone has his opinion on the best of 2010 or expectations for 2011.  Over the next couple of days I will chime in, too.  However, if anything, this is a sustainable resource blog, so let me summarize an article I saw today in Renewable Energy World on the biggest such projects of the year.

These is no particular order of importance and some of the information includes my editorialization (click on the above link to read the full story):

1. Hydro (while world prospects for this option are minimal, keep in mind that hydroplants produce about two-thirds of all renewable electricity and today is accountable for 19% of all power produced):

    a.  The first (of 6) turbine began producing power in Son La, Vietnam, a hydroelectric facility (above) which when fully operational in 2012 will have a capacity of 2400 MW (about the double the average used in Honolulu).  ($2 billion)  (A rough rule of thumb is that a nuclear powerplant is in the range of 1000 MW). 

    b.  Laos commissioned a 1,070 MW hydro power plant  with the aid of Thailand and Italy, co-owned by France ($1.45 billion)

    c.  Of course, the largest of them, the Three Gorges Dam (above) of China, will reach 22,500 MW next year.

    d,  Major construction finishes also were reported from Brazil, Ethiopia and Canada.

2.  Wind Energy is now split into onshore and offshore, a relatively new option.  Energy experts consider windpower to now be competitive with coal and nuclear electricity, but the fact of the matter is that the 6 cent/kWh cost (about the equivalent to those more classical sources) is with the benefit of government incentives and the availability of transmission lines.  Take both away and the cost is higher than 10 cents/kWh.  Still, this is half the cost of PV at something on the order of 20 cent/kWh.

    a.  On land

        1)  The Roscoe Wind Farm (above, 782 MW)) and Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center (735 MW) are the two largest land producers of our winds, both in the state of Texas.  The GansuWind Farm in China, the first of six planned, will be 10,000 MW.

           2)    The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm (above) in Indiana came on line this year with 600 MW as the largest in the USA.

    b.  Offshore (all Europe)

          1)  The $1.2 billion Thanet Offshore Wind Farm (above) began producing 300 MW, the largest of its kind in the world.

          2)  Next will be Rodsand II, a 207 MW extension in Denmark.
3.  Solar Photovoltaics

    a.  Largest commissioned this year was the Canadian Sarnia plant at 97 MW.

    b.  Also, Italy (Montalto diCastro, 84.2 MW) and Germany (Solarpark Finsterwalde, 80.7)

4.  Geothermal Energy

    a.  Rotokawa, New Zealand (132 MW) (above).

    b.  Larderello, Italy (40 MW).

    c.  Kenya (35 MW).

You can also read about ethanol and biomass to electricity in that article.

The real cost of renewable electricity depends on the source and parameters (go to Pure Energy Systems, for example), but here is one from Tom Conrad that seems somewhat reasonable  (divide $/MBtu by ten to convert to cents/kWh):

(If you are really interested in reading this table, click on the original article, or "zoom in" twice".)

This same issue also carries a statement from Hawaiian Electric Company's CEO, Richard Rosenblum, providing a good summary of electricity in Hawaii today.

The Dow Jones Industrials edged up 10 to 11,585, with world markets also mostly doing the same.  Gold increased $8/toz to $1411 and oil is at $91/barrel.


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