Tag Archives: energy

Smart City Wien

Even though we are very much aware of ‘Smart City Benchmarks’ around the world such as in the US and in Asia, the city Vienna which is just around the corner manages to keep its presence in the Top-5 of most Smart Cities around the globe. With its 1.7 million inhabitants, the Austrian capital Vienna is one of the best examples of urban quality of life in the world. Smart City Vienna is a project consortium under the direction of the Vienna city administration.

The main goal of the Vienna city administration seems to be focused around energy. Smart City Vienna formulates Vienna’s energy future as a long-term Smart Energy Vision 2050, Roadmap 2020 and Action Plan 2012-2015.

Vienna is very much focused on stakeholder involvement, relevant stakeholders affected directly by the above mentioned climate/ energy plans are invited to actively participate in the Smart City Forums. The city really seems to have adopted a bottom-up approach. A special steering group was set up to lead the stakeholder progress.

Thomas Madreiter, Project Manager – Municipal Department – Urban Development and Planning, stated the following:

“Vienna meets all the requirements as a smart city to have a leading role in climate-related research and technological development in Europe. With the FIT for SET programme we will launch the necessary measures in order to make the most of our advantages.”

The FIT for SET programme refers to the stakeholder involvement project we mentioned earlier. Smart City Vienna has many different partners such as Siemens AG Österreich, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Vienna University of Technology to realise their agenda of a smarter Vienna.

We are keen to watch their progress in their Smart City adventure, we’ll keep you posted!

 

 



South Africa – Energising Alternatives

In an attempt to reduce the negative environmental externalities related to heavy-coal-fired electricity generation, South Africa is stepping up efforts to increase the role renewable energy plays in its progressively overstretched electricity sector, pushing ahead with a series of programmes aimed at harvesting the nation’s infinite alternate resources.

The government has moved to bring the agencies charged with promoting this new sustainable energy use under one roof, launching the South African national energy development institute (SANEDI) on July 19. The new organisation, which will power the research and development of indigenous green-energy innovations in partnership with science councils, universities and private industry, combines two previous bodies, the National Energy Efficiency Agency and the South African National Energy Institute.

The country is already adapting to reinforce the contribution of renewables to its energy sector. The Department of Energy (DoE) is in the final stages of sealing up to 28 renewable energy proposals that were first accepted back in December 2011, with the signing of implementation, connection and power purchase agreements for a raft of projects set for August.

The initial projects – the first part of the department’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPPP) – is comprised of 18 solar photovoltaic projects with a total capacity of 631.53 MW; two concentrated solar power projects, with 150 MW of combined capacity; and eight onshore wind developments, representing 633.9 MW.

An addition round of 19 projects were assessed in May and a call for the third series of proposals will be issued in the near term, part of the government’s programme to be creating at least 3725 MW of renewable energy and have the tools installed by 2016, with the first projected forecast to come online by 2014.

While the government is keen to promote renewable energy, the delays in its first round of REIPPP projects do highlight difficulties, including financial backing for less-conventional and smaller-scale developments.  Investors may take a renewed outlook on later generations of renewable power generation depending on how successful these initial round of REIPPP projects can prove to be.

However, while SANEDI and schemes such as REIPPP represent the government’s commitment to green energy, the country is keen to maintain as diversified a portfolio as possible, not only to avoid repeats of the load=shedding issues it faced in 2008 but also to reduce exposure to potential swings in commodity prices.

This is most evident in the government’s continued efforts to expand nuclear power generation in the country. Dipuo Peters, the minister of energy, used the introduction  of the new SANEDI agency to underscore the government’s commitment to nuclear energy, as well as with the more traditional use of coal as an energy source.

“We need to use and will continue using nuclear energy for feeding, healing, energy and water provision,” Peters said.

South Africa has plans to construct nuclear power stations with a combined capacity of 9.6 GW by 2030, with at least six such plants being considered along with the sole station already in operation, with their output dwarfing that of the proposed alternative energy programme. Firms from Russia, China and South Korea are among the contenders for the lucrative contracts that will stem from South Africa’s atomic energy programme, with Russian state-owned nuclear energy group Rosatom opening a local office in mid-July to promote its interests.

Coal currently dominates South Africa’s energy mix accounting for 73.4% of primary energy and 90% of electricity in 2010, whilst diversification is a primary, the carbon-based fuel will likely maintain it’s primary position for decades to come. The DoE estimate that coal will continue to be used for the next 100 years, with the minister saying it was indispensable, “as long as we want to keep the lights on”.

South Africa’s push for the promotion of renewable energy is attracting interest from abroad as Chinese firm Powerway Renewable Energy announced it would be investing $1.2m to build several factories and produce mounting and tracking systems for solar photovoltaic plans in July.

Benson Wu, the CEO of Powerway, said the investment aimed to take advantage of the anticipated growth in solar energy in the South African market, with his firm foreseeing the need to supply mounting structures for over 500 MW of solar farms annually.

If the government can sustain the private sectors thirst for alternative energy projects and lure financers in to back such schemes more developments will get up and running in the years to come. However, the challenge will ensure the survival of the project through to its formative and stages and the ability to expand into businesses that generate profits, as well as power.

 

Award Winning Technology in The UK

Company HRS Heat Exchangers ‘scraped surface vacuum evaporator’ recently earned them an award at the National Recycling Awards for ‘Best Energy from Waste Initiative.’ The device was installed at an Anaerobic Digestion plant in Barkip, North Ayrshire, Scotland.

The Barkip plant, run by SSE, was opened in May this year and boasts the biggest combined organic waste treatment and energy generating service in the whole of Scotland. It can treat around 75,000 tonnes of organic waste in just one year, and can generate 2.2 megawatts of electricity from using the biogas that is combusted in its gas engines. As well as generating electricity, the heat that is created from this process is trapped and is added to the liquid fraction of the digestate to concentrate into a liquid, which can then be used as an agricultural fertiliser.

The plant makes use of organic matter such as food waste from a range of industries including food retail, food/alcohol production, and agriculture. The waste that is provided then undergoes a process of being broken down by bacteria, which in turn creates the biogas.

HRS is now renowned for demonstrating an innovate resolution for waste minimisation with the success of a good business strategy.

For more information on the other winners at the National Recycling Awards, please click here.

The road to a low carbon future- miles to go before we sleep?

London’s hopes of producing “the greenest Olympics ever”- potentially by generating enough renewable energy to cover the amount of energy the event will consume- might not quite measure up against their ambition sustainability goals, but not for lack of effort.

Understandably, London’s olympic organisers intended to showcase the region’s commitment to sustainability.

In a number of areas, England and the Uk have been pulling ahead in the race towards a low-carbon/clean energy future- recently ranking first among 12 of the world’s major economies.

There are other challenges still ahead. Plans for rolling out smart meters over the next couple of years is meeting opposition, and despite reports in the paper, The Independent, that “Britain is being powered by record levels of green energy (an increase in excess of 3% for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period of 2011), draft legislation under review in London could spell cuts to onshore wind energy programs- making onshore wind more expensive, leading to higher consumer bills.

We’re not alone in our predicament. Similar issues have arisen in the U.S, where smart meter installation has, in one instance, been met with extreme opposition as Thelma Taormina (55), resident of Harris County, pulled a gun on a CenterPoint Energy worker in order to prevent the installation of a smart meter on her property. Concern over the future of wind energy rings in the air as well, with the Production Tax Credit (PTC) due to expire later this year, and with their economic concerns, new tax incentives for renewables are looking less likely to be around the corner.

The Uk is still currently leading in offshore wind capacity, and aims to generate about 15% of our overall energy from renewable sources (such as wind, solar, and biomass) by 2020- and the road to a low-carbon, greener future looks to be more of a marathon than a sprint.

Fuel cells and hydrogen energy systems- viable option for greener future.

The Uk’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change will be funding five major government-backed research and development projects intended to bring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies into everyday use. These projects will demonstrate how these technologies can be integrated into other areas of energy and transport (e.g. the generation of renewable energy, a refuelling infrastructure) to develop whole systems and how effectively they can work together.

The projects will be selected through a competitive process, and led by Air Products PLC, BOC Ltd, ITM Power, Rutland Management LTD and SSE plc with the following structure: -

- An end-to-end, integrated, green hydrogen production, distribution and retailing system (the first of its kind in the UK) which will be centred around a fully publicly accessible, state-of-the-art 200 bar renewable H2 refuelling station network across london. (Air Products PLC- expertise in atmospheric gases, process & specialty gases, performance materials, and equipment & services).

-The delivery of solar energy generated hydrogen for Swindon’s existing public access via an electrolyser, and its use in materials handling vehicles and light vans at Honda’s manufacturing plant (BOC ltd- versed in thousands of different gases and mixtures, as well as related equipment and services).

-The integration of an electrolyser based refueller with renewable energy which will allow zero carbon hydrogen to be produced for use as a transport fuel for a number of vehicles (ITM Power- design and manufacture of hydrogen energy systems for energy storage and clean fuel production).

-The demonstration of a viable solar-hydrogen energy system, with benefits shared by multiple end users of a business park in Surrey, through the necessary provision of green electricity and heat (Rutland Management LTD- expertise in facility management)

-The demonstration of a whole renewable hydrogen system by connecting a 1MWe electrolyser to the grid, in conjunction with an Aberdeenshire windfarm. This will explore grid impacts, and the energy storage potential of hydrogen generation, and provide the green hydrogen produced to power of fleet of fuel cell buses (SSE plc- UK’s best overall energy provider for eight consecutive years)

These projects will accelerate the process towards the commercialisation of fuel cells and hydrogen energy systems.