Innovative Projects to Harness Green Energy for a Cleaner Future

As awareness about the harmful effects of the conventional sources of energy is spreading, researchers, as well as investors, are incorporating renewable energy resources as much as possible. Right from solar farms to massive wind turbine systems, organizations are collecting energy in humongous amounts of the wind, water, and the sun and producing megawatts of energy from them. With the demand for renewable energy on the rise, researchers have come up with innovative ways to harness green energy. Some of these novel projects are not only intriguing but also fruitful ways to generate energy.

It is important to note that the energy produced through renewable means cause minimum or no harm to the environment. Only then can the source of energy be called green energy in the truest sense.

The Iceland Deep Drilling Project

This project studies the high-temperature hydrothermal systems in Iceland on a long term basis. The Iceland Deep Drilling Project is a result of the collaborative efforts by the Icelandic government and a group of Icelandic power companies. They collaborated to test whether utilizing supercritical geothermal fluids will improve the power production of geothermal fields or not.

Various innovative ways to harness green energy are coming up.

Over a span of several years, the project will drill to test a series of boreholes which will penetrate supercritical zones. These zones are present at three places under the surface of Iceland. The temperature of the hydrothermal fluids underneath ranges from 450 degrees Celsius to 600 degrees Celsius. A drilling of at least 5 km. is required to reach these fluids. A normal 2.5 km. deep geothermal well in Iceland has the ability to produce five megawatts of energy.

Jernhusen Stockholm Central Station

Traveling in a means of public transportation seems like quite a task due to the excessive crowd and people perspiring all around. But who would have thought that the body heat can be useful to generate energy? This is what a transportation real estate company in Sweden has come up with. Jernhusen has installed heat exchangers in the Stockholm central station which has at least quarter million commuters every day. The heat exchangers fit in the ventilation system convert the body heat into hot water. This hot water is then pumped into the heating system of a building across the seat. The heat generated through the hot water saves up to 25% of energy consumption.

Jernhusen also announced that the company aims to install such a system in industrial buildings along with the residential property. This will help in cutting down the energy expense to a great extent.



Malls, Schools Lead in use of Solar Energy

By: Nduku Muema

More people are awakening to the fact that powering, heating and cooling homes and offices using conventional energy is expensive. This realisation has seen renewable energy gain popularity. The world is also gearing towards ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Solar power is one type of renewable energy has been well received. The International Energy Agency predicts that by 2050, solar energy will be the number one producer of electricity in the world. For instance, in the United States, every three minutes, someone switches to solar energy. Closer home, Uganda commissioned a 10MW solar project. The $19 million (Sh1.9 billion) consists of more than 32,680 PV panels and will provide power to more than 40,000 households in rural Eastern Uganda.

Locally, the reception rate may not be that high but the transition is going on. Individuals, big firms, developers and institutions are having enough of the soaring energy prices and switching to solar power. We have witnessed major solar projects in the country. A good example is the Two Rivers Mall solar project, which is expected to produce about two megawatts. The mall will be powered by an advanced solar technology, which will be complemented by power from Kenya Power.

PV Power

Over 150 solar panels have been installed with a smart intelligence system that optimises the PV power churned by the system to the grid. The system quickly detects any malfunctions as a result of low power produced and a panel can be replaced without interfering with the rest. The solar system seamlessly integrates with grid and diesel generator and optimises the solar energy generation to meet the consumption load. During the day, the solar system is given priority, enabling the mall to reduce its energy bill by 30 per cent. Another remarkable solar project is the Garden City carport. A carport is a wall-less shelter for cars consisting of a roof supported on posts. Solar carports are gaining popularity worldwide because they make use of otherwise functionless rooftops. The Garden City solar carport has over 3,300 solar panels that generate 1.26 megwatts per year. The project was installed by Solarcentury, a London-based solar firm. It provides clean energy to all the retail tenants at the shopping mall.

Developers are also turning to solar energy. Strauss Energy, a firm dealing with solar roofing tiles, has partnered with a real estate firm in a mega project in Kitengela. The project involves roofing of 700 houses in a gated community with the solar tiles. This will achieve a one megabyte solar power system to power the estate. The energy firm also has ways of storing the excess power from this system, with the option of sending power back to the grid. “We use a technology called compressed air energy storage that has batteries that can serve the client for 30 years as compared to typical solar batteries that last a maximum of two to three years,” says Charity Wanjiku, the chief operations officer of Strauss Energy.

For institutions, Strathmore University leads the pack, being the first university in Africa to have the largest solar panel rooftop. The institution boasts a 600-kilowatt grid connected solar PV rooftop with over 2,000 panels. The project, funded through a subsidised loan from the French Government, was completed and commissioned in 2014. The solar system caters for all the electricity needs of the university. The excess power is supplied to the national grid at a fixed pre-determined rate. Recently, Starehe Girls Centre won an international energy award for its proposed solar project. The school plans to implement a rooftop photovoltaic system that will reduce the institution’s utility bill by 20 per cent.

Constant Sunshine
The principal, Sr Jane Soita, says: “The project entails installation of a 25-kilowatt photovoltaic rooftop system, four solar water heaters and 10 solar powered street lights. Although Kiambu doesn’t have constant sunshine, the sun-length we experience will sustain the system.
The project will help us reduce our utility bill by 20 per cent and we intend to use the savings to enrol an additional 10 girls in the next academic year.” Solar energy has challenges, though. Nickson Bulachi, a solar energy expert, says that clean, renewable energy is the future and with the rapid growth of solar market, solar has the possibility of becoming a primary energy source.
He says solar is a clean source of energy as it is void of carbon dioxide and other emissions synonymous with most of the fossil fuels. For that reason, it helps mitigate the effects of climate change. Additionally, solar is a more affordable source of energy because it is generated naturally by the sun. One setback is storage. “Solar energy is mostly available during the day and hence needs storage or back-up for use at night. Most of the storage technologies available in the market are very expensive. Storage increases cost by more than 60 per cent of any installation,” says Bulachi.



Solar Batteries ‘Exploding’ in Popularity with Uptake to Triple in 2017

By: Amy Bainbridge and Rebecca Armitage

The first national audit of batteries that store solar power shows almost 7,000 were installed in Australian homes last year — and that’s predicted to triple this year.

Warwick Johnston from solar consultancy SunWiz carried out the audit by speaking to manufacturers and suppliers.

“There was a significant fall in battery prices mid-way through 2016 and the popularity of batteries just exploded,” he told the ABC.

Almost 7,000 batteries were installed in Australian homes in 2016. ABC News: Alex Mann

He said with South Australia battling blackouts, batteries would eventually be a “game changer” for Australia’s energy networks.

Solar batteries are expensive, but intense competition has brought prices down.

About 20 manufacturers are producing around 90 products for sale in Australia, with the cheapest battery retailing for $1,200.

Many larger batteries still cost between $8,000 and $10,000.

Mr Johnston said batteries held benefits for the entire community, not just homeowners.

He said there was potential for the energy stored in batteries to be put back into the grid for the public to use.

“I’d say three years is when we’d start to see that batteries are playing an important role in the network,” Mr Johnston said.

“It’s both something that needs to be managed but also something that can present a great opportunity for Australia.”

Solar batteries one way to avoid a blackout

Australia’s energy networks have been criticised by some as being unreliable, and some consumers see batteries as a way to ensure they have adequate supply.

Sydney resident Alan Jones was one of the first Australians to have a Tesla Powerwall battery installed in his home in December 2015.

He saw it as a way to save on power bills and to ensure supply during outages.

“This home will go four or five days just with powering the refrigerator, the lights and the hot water system,” he told the ABC.

“So it’s worth the investment if you don’t want that [a blackout] to happen to you.

“You need some roof space or some land without trees and some capital, maybe $10,000 or $15,000, the money you might spend on a pool or a new car.”

Networks in most states and territories including South Australia are conducting battery trials to study the implications for their infrastructure.

Solar power taking off in Australia Solar power users say the batteries allow them to save on bills and ensure supply during outages. ABC News: Kathryn Diss, file photo

As part of its trial, SA Power Networks can tap into customers’ stored battery energy when needed to manage network issues.

Energy Networks Australia (ENA) chief executive John Bradley said batteries were “absolutely” part of Australia’s future.

He said the feedback from networks running battery trials was that the technology was performing well.

“The technology is performing in a predictable manner, the real art will be how we set the right incentives to get the full value out of it,” he said.

He said the ENA’s two-year study with the CSIRO also found customers could provide up to half the energy that is produced instead of conventional generators in the future.

“We could see up to 10 million participants in the market at this micro scale, all receiving incentives and payments for allowing their technology to support the grid, and that would mean that you had a much more efficient grid but a much more stable grid,” Mr Bradley said.

But he said major market changes were needed before that could happen.

The ACT and Northern Territory, as well as the Adelaide City Council, are offering rebates for battery installations.




Rhode Island Targets 1 GW of Clean Energy by End of 2020

By: Ivan Shumkov

Block Island wind farm

Rhode Island governor Gina M Raimondo announced on Friday that the state will seek to increase its clean energy generation capacity to 1,000 MW by the end of 2020 from about 100 MW in 2016.

In order to achieve the new “1,000 by ’20” goal, Rhode Island will utilise a broad range of clean energy resources, including offshore and onshore wind as well as solar power, according to the announcement.

“Because of the investments we’ve made and with partnerships across the state, we will increase the amount of clean energy in Rhode Island by 1,000 percent and we’ll double our green economy workforce,” the governor commented.

During her State of the State address, the governor announced a similar strategic goal to double the number of Rhode Islanders that work in the green energy sector by 2020.

Rhode Island is the first and currently the only US state with an operational offshore wind farm, namely the 30-MW Block Island plant that was developed by Deepwater Wind. The five-turbine park entered into service in December 2016.



Amazon Turns Warehouse Roofs into Solar Power Stations

Fifteen warehouses with solar panels will crank out 41 megawatts of power — and mean you won’t have to pay as much for Amazon services.

Amazon is installing solar panels on 15 warehouses in 2017. Amazon

The solar bug has bitten Amazon.

The e-commerce behemoth said Thursday it’s installing solar panels on 15 fulfillment centers this year, enough to generate up to 41 megawatts of power, and plans to expand to 50 of its sites by 2020.

The move is good for Amazon and the planet, said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations, in a statement. “This is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers,” he said.

Amazon also has invested in a lot of renewable energy generated by wind turbines already.

How much power will Amazon solar warehouses pump out? US homes consume power at a rate of about 1.2 kilowatts on average, so Amazon’s generation capacity would be enough to power something like 34,000 homes. Except of course that solar energy only works during the daytime, so you need other sources of power on the grid as well.

Solar energy continues to spread across the country. Homes, businesses and power companies installed 4,143 megawatts of solar power generation capacity in the third quarter of 2016, bringing the country’s total solar to 35.8 gigawatts, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.