Egypt Pushing for 20% Renewable Energy Target by 2020

 Guest Post


Having access to a dependable power supply would probably rank high on the list of priorities of the majority of entrepreneurs looking to set up a new business anywhere. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years or so, Egypt has suffered its fair share of blackouts as the country struggles to meet a growing demand for energy.

Yet, Egypt is a great country in which to do business despite the political and economic problems it’s facing at the moment. English is widely spoken within the business community and the workforce is young, educated and highly motivated.

With a population of 85 million, says the US embassy in Cairo, Egypt is an attractive market for US firms thanks to its unique mix of demographics and commercial links to the broader world, strategic location and a demonstrated ability to innovate and compete in global markets.

The country’s banking sector is modern, transparent and stable, a definite plus for any would-be investor, so there should be little problem setting up a business bank account, for example. But the banks, multinationals like HSBC and Barclays, or domestic institutions such as the National Bank of Egypt, the oldest commercial bank in the country, are not just simply providers of financial products and services. They are also purveyors of local knowledge and expertise which any investor looking for success would be unwise to ignore.

Egypt’s demand for electricity is growing rapidly and the need to develop alternative power resources is becoming ever more urgent, says leading international law firm Norton Rose. It is estimated that demand is increasing at a rate of 1,500 to 2,000MW a year, as a result of rapid urbanisation and economic growth.

The law firm says Egypt has been suffering severe power shortages and rolling blackouts over the past years, necessitating the requirement to look to alternative energy options to help meet increasing demand.

In late 2012, positive steps to kick-start the development of the renewable energy industry were taken. The Supreme Council for Energy announced exemptions from customs duty and sales taxes on parts for renewable energy systems. It was also announced that allocations of land belonging to the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) would be made to private companies working in the wind and solar fields.

This year, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the NREA and the Arab Organisation for Industrialisation, an Egypt-based Arab military organisation.

The strategic partnership between the two institutions aims to increase the consumption of renewable energy in the country, to reach 20% of global energy use by 2020.

It is also hoped the agreement will foster experience sharing, competence building and the implementation of new technical tools as well as enabling the review of suggestions made on environmental and logistical matters, and to pool knowledge and practices for the management of new projects.

Norton Rose says the 20% target is expected to be met largely by scaling-up of wind power projects with the share of wind power in total electricity generation being expected to reach 12%. This translates to a wind power capacity of about 7200MW by 2020.

For more by Norton Rose, click here.

England’s London Array Switched Online as the World’s Largest Wind Farm


London Array is the now world’s largest offshore wind farm, generating enough electricity to power nearly half a million homes. The wind farm has just placed its last wind turbine in order to switch online as the world’s largest. Located in the Thames Estuary, the farm consists of 175 turbines that will power the area from Essex to Margate. Phase one of the London Array, owned by Dong Energy, Masdar and EON and consisting of 141 turbines (630 MW), is now fully functional. London proper is already known for being home to the world’s largest solar bridge, at Blackfriars, and now Kent joins the renewable energy elite with London Array, which is only around 50 miles from the capital.

The London Array has been under construction since March of 2011 and its Siemens 3.6MW turbine kicked into power six months ago. The first phase has been coming along quickly and since last Thursday has been pumping wind power into the grid. The developers of the London Array are also using the project as a case study in order to lower costs for large scale wind farms in the future. DONG Energy has the ultimate goal of creating offshore wind farm projects that yield usable wind power at around $152 per megawatt hour by 2020.

The next phase will be to get the remaining 34 turbines online, as well as to bury remaining cables. Phase one itself is anticipated to provide power for half a million homes a year, which will save 925,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.


New Solar Panels Keep Buildings Cool In Direct Sunlight

Image credit: Shutterstock/Style_TTT


Someday your home might be nice and cool in the middle of July without air conditioning. How? Some Stanford researchers have created a solar panel that cools buildings in direct sunlight.

To achieve this goal, a panel has to reflect (rather than absorb) as much sunlight as possible, as well as radiate heat back into the building. Stanford’s invention does both:

It is an effective broadband mirror for solar light—it reflects most of the sunlight. It also emits thermal radiation very efficiently within the crucial wavelength range needed to escape Earth’s atmosphere.

The panels are a combination of both a thermal emitter and a solar reflector. And the team of researchers is the first to achieve this type of sustainable cooling during daytime hours by engineering nanostructured photonic materials—forms of light radiation—to either enhance or suppress light at different wavelengths. The result? A device that can cool 100 watts per square meter. In practical terms, that means you could have 10 percent of your roof covered with solar panels, but they would offset about 35 percent of the AC you’d need during the most sweltering days of summer. Which sounds sounds pretty cool to us.


Will Vertical Turbines Make More of the Wind?

A Caltech researcher thinks arrays of tiny wind turbines could produce cheaper power than big ones.

By Kevin Bullis

Testing the wind: Three, 10-meter vertical-axis wind turbines at a demonstration facility in California.

The remote Alaskan village of Igiugig—home to about 50 people—will be the first to demonstrate a new approach to wind power that could boost power output and, its inventors say, just might make it more affordable.

For decades, the trend across the wind industry has been to make wind turbines larger and larger—because it has improved efficiency and helped lower costs.

John Dabiri, a professor of aeronautical and bioengineering at Caltech, has a heretical idea. He thinks the way to lower the cost of wind power is to use small vertical-axis wind turbines, while using computer models to optimize their arrangement in a wind farm so that each turbine boosts the power output of its neighbors.

Dabiri has demonstrated the basic idea at a 24-turbine test plot in southern California. Grants totaling $6 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense will allow him to see if the approach can lower wind power costs in Igiugig. The first 10 turbines will be installed this year, and the goal is to eventually install 50 to 70 turbines, which would produce roughly as much power as the diesel generators the village uses now. Dabiri is also installing turbines at an existing wind farm in Palm Springs, California, using his models to generate power by putting up new turbines between existing ones.

Ordinarily, as wind passes around and through a wind turbine, it produces turbulence that buffets downstream turbines, reducing their power output and increasing wear and tear. Dabiri says that vertical-axis turbines produce a wake that can be beneficial to other turbines, if they’re positioned correctly.

The blades of this type of wind turbine are arranged vertically—like poles on a carousel rather than spokes on a wheel, as with conventional wind turbines. Wind moving around the vertical-axis turbines speeds up, and the vertical arrangement of the blades on downstream wind turbines allows them to effectively catch that wind, speed up, and generate more power. (The spinning blades of a conventional wind turbine would only catch some of this faster wind as they pass through it—this actually hurts the turbine’s performance because it increases stress on the blades.) The arrangement makes it possible to pack more turbines onto a piece of land.

Dabiri’s wind turbines are 10 meters tall and generate three to five kilowatts, unlike the 100-meter-tall, multi-megawatt machines in conventional wind farms. He says the smaller ones are easier to manufacture and could cost less than conventional ones if produced on a large scale. He also says maintenance costs could be less because the generator sits on the ground, rather than at the top of a 100-meter tower, and thus is easier to access. The performance of the wind farm at Igiugig will help determine whether his estimates of maintenance costs are correct.

Dabiri says small, vertical wind turbines have other advantages. While the noise of conventional wind turbines has led some communities to campaign to tear them down, his turbines are “almost inaudible,” he says. They’re also less likely to kill birds. And their short profile has attracted a $1 million grant from the Department of Defense to study their use on military bases. Because they’re shorter, they interfere less with helicopter operations and with radar than conventional wind turbines.

The approach, however, faces some challenges. Vertical-axis wind turbines aren’t as efficient as conventional ones—half of the time the blades are actually moving against the wind, rather than generating the lift needed spin a generator. As the blades alternatively catch the wind and then move against it, they create wear and tear on the structure, says Fort Felker, director of the National Wind Technology Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Dabiri, and researchers such as Alexander Smits at Princeton University, say they are working on improved turbine designs to address some of these issues.

Felker notes that Dabiri’s approach will also require installing a thousand times more wind turbines, requiring potentially millions of wind turbines rather than thousands to generate significant fractions of U.S. power supply. And he notes that, over the last several decades, the wind industry has demonstrated that making ever larger wind turbines lowers costs (“Novel Designs are Taking Wind Power to the Next Level,” “Supersized Wind Turbines Head Out to Sea,” and “The Quest for the Monster Wind Turbine Blade.” “Going in the other direction, I believe, will not be successful,” he says. “I don’t think the math works out.”

Felker thinks that Dabiri’s approach might prove fitting for small, isolated places like Igiugig, where simpler construction and maintenance might be important. “But if you’re trying to transform the overall energy economy,” he says, “you’ve got to go big.”



Biochar to cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Guest Post

It is no secret that our world has been affected by high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Whether they are emitted on a larger scale or produced from our cars and homes, we are constantly searching for a solution. This is where Biochar comes in. This charcoal material acts as a soil amendment and will help increase soil fertility and agricultural productivity. This is good news for people who use Biochar avidly in their own gardens at home, however research has shown that it also has the potential to mitigate climate change as it helps appropriate carbon. This means that our greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced over time.

Benefits of Biochar

Under certain conditions Biochar has been found to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from soil. (Nitrous oxide is more commonly known as powerful greenhouse gas). Bioenergy crops have the potential to sequester the carbon in the soil however these crops are not ploughed every year, meaning that the carbon is not being evenly distributed. Adding Biochar to soil however could have some immediate effects in sequestering the carbon. This is because Biochar in itself contains a lot of carbon. Further to this, Biochar will reduce the CO2 emitted by the soil respiration. Biochar is also easily accessible as it can be made from different organic materials. It is more powerful than untreated straw however; as researchers have concluded that Biochar is approximately twenty times more stable than other organic materials. This was evident from the degradation tests carried out in Norway. In fact, Biochar was shown to degrade less than one per cent during the last two years, whereas this figure increased to ten per cent for untreated straw.

Significant changes over time

Where normal organic materials such as straw will degrade to CO2 over a short amount of time and complete the carbon cycle, Biochar will take longer to do this. This suggests that Biochar may be a more efficient way of storing carbon in soil than other alternatives. At NERC’s centre for Ecology & Hydrology, results of testing Biochar have suggested that the charcoal reduces CO2 emissions over several years on a significant level. Shorter term tests have been done in the past but this is the first time that bioenergy crops have been tested with Biochar over a long period of time.

Our Role

We also have the responsibility to take care of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from our own homes, as previously mentioned. Just as you would manage your property with websites like rentify , it is important to manage the gas emissions we emit from our own homes by doing our research. We can then find out what else we can do in addition to using Biochar at home.

The future for Biochar

Research is continually being carried out to see just how much we can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world. More conclusive evidence is still needed to evaluate Biochar’s environmental impact when it comes to improving soil quality and mitigating these emissions. However there is no doubt that the research taking place at the moment indicates a truly positive step in the right direction.