Tuesday 5 February 2013

Mitsubishi plans solar energy projects in Fukushima, Japan

28 Jan 2013

Mitsubishi Corp, announced plans for the construction of a new solar power plant in Iwaki City, Fukushima, Japan. The largest of its kind in the Tohoku region, the 12 MW facility is expected to start operating from mid-2014. The project forms part of Mitsubishi's overall strategic focus of developing its business in the renewable energies sector. Mitsubishi is developing the solar power project with full support from Nippon Kasei, as well as cooperation from the Fukushima Prefecture and Iwaki City governments.

Mitsubishi is simultaneously developing a 6 MW solar project at the site of Onahama Petroleum Co., Ltd, a joint venture between MC and TEPCO in Iwaki. Together, the two projects will constitute 18 MW of solar power generation in total at Onahama. The company will continue to cooperate with local governments and business partners to develop significant renewable energy businesses domestically along the lines of local energy production for local energy consumption.

According to the company, these projects will help to raise Japan's energy self-sufficiency rate while at the same time nurture new industries, create employment and contribute to the overall revitalization of local communities. Projects of this nature also form a part of larger initiatives to combat global warming. Based on this policy, and including other planned solar power generation projects, Mitsubishi is engaged in the production of some 130 MW of power in total across the country, and is aiming to expand that capacity to 200 MW by 2020.

Black silicon can take efficiency of solar cells to new levels

25 Jan 2013

Scientists at Aalto University, Finland, have demonstrated results that show a huge improvement in the light absorption and the surface passivation on highly absorbing silicon nanostructures. This has been achieved by applying atomic layer coating. The results advance the development of devices that require high sensitivity light response such as high efficiency solar cells.

This method provides extremely good surface passivation. Simultaneously, it reduces the reflectance further at all wavelengths. These results are very promising considering the use of black silicon (b-Si) surfaces on solar cells to increase the efficiency to completely new levels, tells Paeivikki Repo, a researcher at Aalto University.

More effective surface passivation methods than those used in the past have been needed to make black silicon a viable material for commercial applications. Good surface passivation is crucial in photonic applications such as solar cells. So far, the poor charge carrier transport properties attributed to nanostructured surfaces have been more detrimental for the final device operation than the gain obtained from the reduced reflectance.

Black silicon can also be used in other technologies than solar cells. Numerous applications suggested for b-Si include drug analysis.

Black silicon (b-Si) has been a subject of great interest in various fields including photovoltaics for its ability to reduce the surface reflectance even below 1%. However, many b-Si applications-especially solar cells-suffer from increased surface recombination resulting in poor spectral response. This is particularly problematic at short wavelengths.

Astroturf gone wrong: Fake protesters offered $20 To stand at anti-wind energy rally

24 Jan 2013

Most Americans like clean energy. So when conservatives wage campaigns against clean energy initiatives, they have typically resorted to fronting astroturf groups and paying fake protesters to generate noise.

Needing 100 anti-wind protesters by next week and apparently unable to find them, a mysterious firm advertised a "quick and easy $20″ on Craigslist. According to the ad, the only thing the "volunteers" would need to do for their pay is "stand next to or behind the speakers and elected officials/celebrities" at a rally against a wind turbine project in the UK.

See screenshot here: http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Screen-shot-2013-01-24-at-6.39.53-PM1-e1359070937201.png

We do not know who is behind the ad, but there is at least one wealthy opponent of windmills in Scotland, since they would obstruct the view of his golf course.

There is nothing new about anti-clean energy and anti-EPA campaigns fronted by corporate interests. Last year, coal groups threw its cash at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing, paying astroturfers $50 to wear pro-coal T-shirts. Wind has faced a particularly uphill battle against corporate interests, with a leaked strategy memo showing conservative think tanks leading an astroturf strategy to take down clean energy, at the same time a lobby group linked to the Koch brothers mobilized to defeat wind credits in Congress.

Mitsubishi claims world first with hydraulic wind turbine breakthrough

24 Jan 2013

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has started testing a large-scale wind power generation system that adopts a hydraulic drive train instead of a gear-driven system. The company claims it is the first time such a trial has been carried out anywhere in the world and is anticipating a market launch for a mass-produced commercial model in 2015.

The tests are being carried out at MHI's Yokohama Dockyard & Machinery Works in Japan and is a part of a project launched in September to develop a hydraulic drive train for offshore wind turbines. On the back of the test results, MHI plans to accelerate its development of an offshore generation system in the 7 MW class, with installation and operation due to begin at Hunterston, in the UK, later this year.

The model being tested is based on an existing MWT100 gear-driven system that was retrofitted with the new hydraulic drive train. The retrofitting involved replacement of the step-up gear-which functioned as the power transmission system to increase the rotation speed of the rotor from 10 rotations per minute to the rotation speed of the generator, 1000 rotations per minute.

MHI developed the new hydraulic drive train based on digitally controlled technologies developed by a UK company, Artemis Intelligent Power, which was acquired by MHI in 2010.

Gaia to ship wind turbine unit to Tonga

25 Jan 2013

Glasgow-based Gaia-Wind has been appointed to supply a turbine to help Tonga Power assess the potential for the technology in the archipelago. As Tonga relies on fossil fuels such as diesel to generate power, a shift to renewable energy might allow the country to achieve big reductions in its import bills and carbon emissions.

John van Brink, chief executive of Tonga Power, said: "This project will deliver fossil-free power to the grid and, most importantly, it will be another step forward in meeting our strategic targets for renewable energy delivery". While Tonga has been developing solar power resources, the 11 kW wind turbine developed by Gaia-Wind will be the first of its kind installed in the country. It will produce enough power for a farm or family home.

The company hopes a successful trial of the turbine in Tonga could result in widespread adaptation of the technology in the kingdom. Gaia-Wind says its turbines are ideally suited for farms and rural properties, which are common on Tonga's 170 plus Islands. "Tonga is a prime example of the kind of market for 'distributed energy' for which the Gaia-Wind-wind turbine is eminently suited", said Gaia-Wind chief executive Johnnie Andringa.

The project will involve shipping the Glasgow-assembled turbine from the port of Grangemouth on the Forth to Auckland in New Zealand, via Singapore. It will make the final stage of the journey to Tonga in a smaller boat.

Asked if there was any contradiction involved in transporting a turbine so far for a renewable energy project, a spokesman for Gaia-Wind noted Tonga is in an isolated position. "They are entitled to source the most appropriate machinery for their requirements", said the spokesman, who added: "As part of that, they will have taken sustainability issues into account". Gaia-Wind beat off competition from manufacturers in the US and mainland Europe.

The company increased turnover to around £10 million in 2012, from £7.7m in 2011. Its 11kW turbines sell for around £55,000 in the UK. While the bulk of sales were in the UK last year, Gaia-Wind has exported to more than 10 countries, including the US, Canada, France and Germany. It wants to grow exports to 50% of sales.

The quest for the monster wind turbine blade

23 Jan 2013

Blade Dynamics, a six-year-old company that's partly owned by American Superconductor, a wind turbine designer and supplier of wind farm electronics, says that it has developed technology that will make possible the world's largest wind turbine blades. It's demonstrated the technology by manufacturing 49 meter blades, and now the Energy Technologies Institute, a partnership between the U.K, government and major corporations such as BP, Shell, and Caterpillar, has given the company nearly $25 million to build 100 meter blades. They could enable 250 meter-tall wind turbines that would tower over the Washington Monument, which stands a mere 169 meters tall. The largest wind turbine blades now are 75 meters long.

The effort is no mere record-setting spectacle. Finding affordable ways to make the enormous wind turbine blades is one of the biggest challenges to making offshore wind competitive with fossil fuels, and leading wind power companies, including GE and Vestas Wind Systems, are developing technology to solve the problem.

Some of the best winds for generating power are found offshore, where wind can be steadier, faster, and less turbulent than on land. Wind turbines only make up about a third of the cost of offshore wind farms--installation costs are the major expense, as they involve enormous, specialized ships and are subject to delays from bad weather. Using larger wind turbines reduces the number of wind turbines needed, decreasing installation and maintenance costs.

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