Tag Archives: grid

The future of street lights – hybrid power with mini-wind turbines & solar panels

A friend recommended these to me after her company installed them. From UGE, they are streetlights combining solar panels with mini-wind turbines. They are quite amazing:

From the brochure (pdf):

  • Our hybrid model operates entirely off-grid.
  • Can be installed in remote locations which are inaccessible to the electric grids.
  • Lower utility costs – avoid the high cost of wiring grid-connected lighting

 

 

Continue reading

American wind power reaches 50-gigawatt milestone

From the AWEA press release:

The 50 gigawatts (GW) online today means that U.S. wind turbines now power the equivalent of nearly 13 million American homes, or as many as in Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, Alabama, and Connecticut combined. In addition, 50 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity:

  • Represents the generating power of 44 coal-fired power plants, or 11 nuclear power plants.
  • Avoids emitting as much carbon dioxide as taking 14 million cars off the road.
  • Conserves 30 billion gallons of water a year compared to thermal electric generation, since wind energy uses virtually no water.

 

To put this into perspective, it is estimated that the United States used 3.9 million gigawatts in 2011.

Now back to the good news, projects recently connected to the grid:

  • Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley wind farm, 30 miles east of Ely, Nevada (151.8 megawatts, or MW)
  • Enel Green Power North America’s Rocky Ridge wind farm in Oklahoma (148.8 MW)
  • enXco’s Pacific Wind project in Kern County, California (140 MW)
  • Utah Associated Municipal Power’s Horse Butte project in Idaho (57.6 MW)
  • First Wind’s Kaheawa Wind II wind farm in Hawaii (21 MW)
50,000 megawatts = 50 gigawatts

 

It took us a long time to hit 10 MW in 2006, then much less to hit 25 MW in 2008, and now, in 2012, we are at 50 MW. The ramp-up continues all over the country as 39 states now have wind power feeding their grids. There is even good news on the “Made in USA” front with 60% of the sourcing coming from home, compared to 25% in 2005.

 

Continue reading

8 clean energy predictions from a decade ago…that were way wrong

From the Fresh Energy blog and a good reminder that most experts have trouble thinking exponentially.

 

WIND

  • In 2000, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published its World Energy Outlook, predicting that non-hydro renewable energy would comprise 3 percent of global energy by 2020. That benchmark was reached in 2008.
  • In 2000, IEA projected that there would be 30 gigawatts of wind power worldwide by 2010, but the estimate was off by a factor of 7. Wind power produced 200 gigawatts in 2010, an investment of approximately $400 billion.
  • In 1999, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated that total U.S. wind power capacity could reach 10 gigawatts by 2010. The country reached that amount in 2006 and quadrupled between 2006 and 2010.
  • In 2000, the European Wind Energy Association predicted Europe would have 50 gigawatts of wind by 2010 and boosted that estimate to 75 two years later. Actually, 84 gigawatts of wind power were feeding into the European electric grid by 2012.
  • In 2000, IEA estimated that China would have 2 gigwatts of wind power installed by 2010. China reached 45 gigawatts by the end of 2010. The IEA projected that China wind power in 2020 would be 3.7 gigawatts, but most projections now exceed 150 gigawatts, or 40 times more.

SOLAR

  • In 2000, total installed global photovoltaic solar capacity was 1.5 gigawatts, and most of it was off-the-grid, like solar on NASA satellites or on cabins in the mountains or woods.
  • In 2002, a top industry analyst predicted an additional 1 gigawatt annual market by 2010. The annual market in 2010 was 17 times that at 17 gigawatts.
  • In 1996, the World Bank estimated 0.5 gigwatts of solar photovoltaic in China by 2020, but China reached almost double that mark—900 megawatts by 2010.

 

 

Continue reading

San Onofre Nuclear Plant shut down for the summer – does Southern California still need it?

This summer may be just a test run for operating Southern California’s electrical grid without a nuclear plant.

The latest report on the outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station shows the replacement of four massive steam generators was accompanied by serious design flaws, with no clear solution in sight.

Both stakeholders in San Onofre and critics of nuclear power say the start of a summer without the twin-reactor plant has forced a new accounting for its costs and benefits.

The utility industry and the state’s main grid operator are “considering a range of existing and new alternatives for mitigating the impacts of a long-term or permanent shutdown at San Onofre,” said Stephanie McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the California Independent System Operator.

At full tilt, San Onofre can produce enough electricity to power 1.4 million homes.

Yet the grid operator foresees only the remote chance of rolling outages during hot weather in the next three months — when San Onofre is needed the most.

 

Keep readingSan Onofre: Do we really need it?

 

Continue reading

5 energy saving tips, what are yours?

Yesterday, Google released it’s electricity usage and the numbers are fantastical.

The company uses 260 million watts which is the output of 1/4 of a nuclear power plant.

For each google search we use 0.3 watt-hours of electricity. I’m not sure how much that is but I do like the idea of server firing up when I type in “chad ocho cinco”.

This got me thinking about my last posts discussing how electricity is the main cause of global warming, the follow-up about my local power plant, and the popular solar parking lots.

Electricity is the problem of the decade and any bit of savings we can get are huge. A little research shows that retail prices are shooting up, over 41% since 2000 (3.5%/year), and expected to go even higher.

This website gives electricity prices for each state and here are the winners:

[box type="shadow"]

Highest average price, 2010

  • Hawaii (25.12¢ per kWh)
  • Connecticut (17.39¢)
  • New York (16.31¢)

[/box]

[box type="shadow"]

Lowest average price, 2010

  • Kentucky (6.75¢)
  • Idaho (6.54¢)
  • Wyoming (6.20¢)

[/box]

I hope you live in the one of the cheap states!

 

Without further ado, here are my 5 favorite energy saving tips.

1. Hang-dry clothes like it’s Little House on the Prairie. There ain’t no shame in letting your undies fly in the wind.

2. Shower quicker or turn off the water during the lather phase. It feels weird at first but you get used to it. Remember, every time you touch warm water you are paying to heat it up. Do you use warm water in the hot summer to wash dishes or your hands?

3. LED bulbs require some new knowledge. If you shop for one here is what the package will say, “6 Watt LED Replacement for a 50 Watt Incandescent.” That’s a near 90% reduction in lighting costs if you switch to LED but it’s not yet cheap with bulbs going from $12-30.

4. Fresh Air…my mom raised me on the stuff. Always opening the windows for me to make sure I didn’t get stuffy. Now I need it all the time and that means no A/C for me. I would rather sweat than breath recycled air. Huge energy saver for me.

5. Solar charger for phone. Life is better off the grid and to get started I purchased a solar doohickey. I haven’t plugged in my phone or iPad since. Tip: When buying solar, know that solar panels only produce energy, which means you need a battery pack to store the energy, otherwise you have to plug your phone in when the sun is shining.

 What Are Your Tips?