The winners of the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s (CanWEA) Power of Wind contest were announced during the association’s 30th Annual Conference and Exhibition in Montreal, Quebec this week. The contest is launched each year during Global Wind Day (June 15, 2015) to bring positive attention to the benefits of wind energy and its growing contribution in Canada.
Each year, CanWEA awards several bursary prizes to students entering or in post-secondary education. This year, students were invited to submit multimedia and written entries on why they believe wind energy is important to Canada’s energy future.
“CanWEA’s Power of Wind contest presents an opportunity for students to share their unique perspective on energy. This year, we reviewed over 200 captivating multi-media entries,” said CanWEA President, Robert Hornung. “The submissions revealed a high awareness among students of wind energy’s role in powering new economic and environmental opportunities, and the ways that Canada can demonstrate global leadership in the development of renewable energy.”
And this year’s Power of Wind contest winners are…
- Best English language blog: Audrey Cheung, University of Calgary
- Best French language blog: Pierre-Luc Blain, University of British Columbia
- Best multimedia entry: Maya Olechnowicz, University of Western Ontario
- Most creative submission: Long Ting (Tina) Chan, University of Waterloo
Click here to read the winners’ blogs.
According to Quanzi Li, the greatest barrier to producing biofuels is from stubborn plant cell walls that resist being broken down into biofuel ingredients. Li is the lead author of a paper published in Plant Biotechnology Journal about North Carolina (NC) State’s Forest Biotechnology Group biofuel research progress. Cell walls contain desirable cellulose and hemicellulose, which is “covered up” with lignin, the substance that contributes to the strength of wood but gets in the way of biofuel production.
In the case of wood, the lignin must be removed and then the resulting cellulose is converted to ethanol. Production begins with an expensive pretreatment, followed by enzyme use to release the sugars that can be fermented to produce ethanol. Li and her team are focusing on simplifying the process in various ways.
NC State’s team has created genetically modified trees with reduced lignin content. “Normally when you reduce lignin, plant growth is negatively affected, which also reduces biomass production,” explained Li. “However, we now know that we can produce transgenic plants with strong cell walls and normal development but much less lignin.”
Fast-growing trees with high energy content could grow on marginal land without disrupting crop production. NC State has worked extensively with black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa). Forest Biotechnology Group researchers in the College of Natural Resources have developed engineering models that predict how 21 pathway enzymes affect lignin content and composition, providing the equivalent of GPS directions to guide future research.
This comprehensive approach, which involves genes, proteins, plant chemical compounds and mathematical models, fits into a systems biology perspective that’s the key to future breakthroughs, Li said. She added, “Progress has been made in many areas, but we still lack a complete understanding of how the cell wall is formed. We have to have a better idea of the factors that control its formation to produce better biomass for biofuels.”
The Ulumbu 2 x 2.5 MW Geothermal Power Plant, located in Indonesia, has been commissioned and is now providing base load power for the local grid. The project was designed and developed by Geothermal Development Associates (GDA) who also provided major equipment including the steam turbine generator sets. In addition, GDS manufactured auxiliary equipment packages to minimize installation time, including the lube oil system, turbine inlet control valve assembly, and the plant control system.
PT Rekadaya Elektrika (Rekadaya) of Indonesia served as the general contractor, responsible for construction of the plant. Throughout 2014, GDA engineers were on-site working closely with Rekadaya engineers and construction crews to erect the plant and subsequent commissioning and performance testing. PLN UIP XI-UPK 3 formally handed the power plant over to PLN Wilayah NTT in a Taking Over Ceremony on September 4, 2014.
PLN is Indonesia’s state owned electricity company with a total installed electric capacity of 34,205 MW as of December 2013, of which 568 MW (2%) were geothermal. The Ulumbu geothermal field is located 13 km to the south of Ruteng, the capital of Central Manggarai Regency, Flores Island, in the East Nusa Tenggara Province of Indonesia.
“EIA has adjusted its estimates of the energy content of retail motor gasoline in the Monthly Energy Review (MER) to reflect its changing composition. Ethanol and other oxygenates, which have lower energy content than petroleum-based gasoline components, have seen their share of total gasoline volumes increase from 2% in 1993 to nearly 10% in 2013. As a result, EIA’s estimate of motor gasoline’s average energy content per gallon has declined by about 3% over this 20-year period,” writes the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its latest Monthly Energy Review.
To better understand the changes, a recent “Today in Energy” looked at how higher U.S. ethanol use has cut the average energy content of a gallon of gasoline.
The EIA explains that the adjustment of the average energy content per gallon of motor gasoline reflects changes in response to 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations that split the U.S. gasoline market into three segments: conventional, oxygenated, and reformulated. Oxygenated and reformulated gasoline was required to be blended with compounds that contained oxygen, such as MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether) or ethanol. This Act was designed to reduce toxic air emissions in cities and it was successful. However, EIA states that while these additives reduced air pollution, they also resulted in lower heating value compared with conventional gasoline, translating to fewer miles per gallon, because they have lower energy density.
In response to these regulations, EIA began collecting separate data on the production of conventional, oxygenated, and reformulated gasoline in 1994. The gasoline heating value was estimated based on the relative volumes of conventional, oxygenated, and reformulated gasoline in the total motor gasoline product supplied to the United States. Continue reading
When people think of solar energy they think of red. Now people will start to think white. Neuchatel, Switzerland -based CSEM has produced what they believe to be the first white solar modules. According to company materials, the technology is attractive to the building industry where solar elements can blend into the building’s design and become a “hidden” renewable energy source.
CSEM’s white solar module technology has no visible cells and connections. It combines a solar cell technology able to convert infrared solar light into electricity and a selective scattering filter, which scatters the whole visible spectrum while transmitting infrared light. Any solar technology based on crystalline silicon can now be used to manufacture white, and colored, modules.
The technology can be applied on top of an existing module or integrated into a new module during assembly, on flat or curved surfaces.Besides its main application in building, CSEM expects other fields such as consumer electronics (laptops), and the car industry to show significant interest.
The first African Sustainable Transport Forum is taking place this week in Nairobi, Kenya and the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) called on forum attendees to adopt biofuel friendly policies and regulations that would kick-start the increased use of sustainable biofuels in Africa’s transport sector.
“This Forum is an opportunity that should be grasped by Africa to take a vital step towards more sustainable transportation options. The potential of sustainable biofuels should be at the centre of these talks because they are the best sustainable transport option, both in environmental and economic terms,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.
Earlier this year the GRFA forecasted that 2014 global ethanol production would reach 90.38 billion litres and its use worldwide would reduce GHG emissions by over 106 million tonnes globally. “106 million tonnes or 21 million cars in GHG reductions is massive, it’s the same as removing all the cars registered in Malaysia off the road, but much more can be achieved if African leaders choose a path towards a more sustainable future for African transport,” said Baker.
While biofuel production in Africa has remained relatively low when compared to other regions, it has grown year on year with ethanol production alone now forecasted to reach 260 million litres in 2014. The domestic use of this ethanol fuel could reduce Africa’s GHG emissions by 325,000 tonnes.
“In addition to the important opportunity to reduce GHG emissions in transport, biofuels also offer African countries a fantastic opportunity to spark much-needed investment in agriculture, and, by creating jobs and boosting household incomes, poverty can be alleviated and food security improved. Sustainable biofuels are an important tool to help enable the revival of Africa’s rural communities, Africa’s political leaders need to promote them,” added Baker.
Baker said that African Sustainable Transport Forum attendees should note that the country’s biofuels opportunity was identified in 2010 by the World Bank when it released “Biofuels in Africa: Opportunities, Prospects and Challenges.” The report found that “a new economic opportunity for sub-Saharan Africa is looming large: biofuel production…Africa is uniquely positioned to produce these new cash crops for both domestic use and export. The region has abundant land resources and preferential access to protected markets with higher-than-world-market prices. The rapid growth in the demand for transport fuels in Africa and high fuel prices create domestic markets for biofuels.
Enerkem Inc. has signed an agreement with Qingdao City Construction Investment Group Co. Ltd. to develop a project partnership to jointly build a municipal solid waste-to-biofuels facility in Qingdao. The agreement was signed by Mr. Luzheng Xing, Director General, Qingdao City Construction Investment Group, and Mr. Vincent Chornet, President and CEO of Enerkem.
This additional project partnership for Enerkem in China was announced in the presence of the Governor of Shandong, Mr. Guo Shuqing, and the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Philippe Couillard. It follows two previous project partnerships confirmed by Enerkem during the Quebec government’s trade mission in China.
“We are proud to combine forces with our esteemed partner in Qingdao to address local waste challenges and transform garbage into clean transportation fuels,” said Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem. “Our modular waste-to-biofuels facilities can be replicated in any community as a competitive and sustainable alternative to incineration or landfilling. We are thrilled to export this game-changing technology to China.”
In this new project partnership, Enerkem will license its exclusive technology to convert local urban waste from China into biofuels and chemicals. The final business structure and sites are under discussions and will be announced at a later time.
ChargePoint now accepts PayPal. PayPal has long supported electric vehicles (EVs) and has installed 34 ChargePoint ports at their San Jose, California, campus for employees and visitors. The company states by enabling people to pay for a charge using PayPal, they are giving their customers a faster and easier way to pay.
ChargePoint stations are independently owned so businesses and individuals are free to set pricing however they prefer. Some station owners prefer to offer charging for free as an amenity or to attract visitors. Others set a price to cover costs or drive revenue. Over half of the 19,000 charging spots on the ChargePoint network are free. When there is a fee to use a station, drivers can pay with their ChargePoint account by adding their credit card. Now, drivers can also use PayPal to get a charge.
“With PayPal as a payment option, it’s even easier for drivers to plug in to a ChargePoint station,” said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint’s CEO. “Combining the largest network for EV charging with a leader in digital payments means that more drivers can make the switch to electric.”
Now when asked for payment information, drivers can choose PayPal and will be directed to PayPal.com to enter their username and password. To start charging, drivers can use the ChargePoint mobile app or wave their ChargePoint card in front of the station’s card reader. The first time a driver accesses a station that requires a fee, a $25 deposit will be charged to their account and payment will be deducted from that deposit.
Robert Baker of Sue City, Missouri has won the 2014 Growth Energy Individual Membership Sweepstakes sponsored by New Holland. His prize included 200 hours of usage of a CR8090 combine with a New Holland Twin Rotor CR8090 combine corn head for the 2014 harvest season.
“I am very excited, and I have a son and grandson that are more excited than me because they get to run [the combine],” said Baker.
Baker is a farmer who has invested in the Macon, Missouri, POET Biorefining plant, and regularly provides feedstock. The 14-year-old plant gained national coverage in 2010 when President Obama visited to learn more about ethanol production and gave a speech discussing the ability of ethanol to “contribute to our clean energy future”.
“We are proud to support a farmer who works so hard every day to grow crops to help feed the world and fuel our nation,” said Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis. “Our members are working hard to revitalize our rural economies, create new jobs and ensure our nation will have a sustainable and secure energy future. This sweepstakes was part of a larger effort to continue to build grassroots support for biofuels across the country. Our growing grassroots advocates, such as Mr. Baker, help promote our industry and ensure that lawmakers in Washington understand the important role the RFS and biofuels play across America’s heartland. ”
The Growth Energy Individual Membership Sweepstakes offered all new or renewing individual members a chance to win either a NASCAR ticket package or usage of a New Holland combine. The total prize package for the combine is valued at $35,584.
Steve Murphy, General Manager at POET Biorefining – Macon, added, “The economic impact of the ethanol industry here in Missouri is undeniable and what we do here at POET goes far beyond the production process. As the first ethanol plant in the state of Missouri, we are proud of the added value our facility brings to producers and this community. However, we wouldn’t be able to offer consumers cheaper and cleaner choices at the pump if it weren’t for producers like Robert. All of us at POET Biorefining – Macon sincerely thank Robert for his continued support and extend him our congratulations.”
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is expanding its work in Asia-Pacific’s renewable energy sector. The announcement was made during National Energy Action Month where the Navy is promoting energy efficiency and conservation by participating in and hosting events around the world. The announcement comes after ONR’s work with the Chiang Mai World Green City that was established two years ago at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University with support from ONR. It uses solar cells, batteries for energy storage and a direct-current (DC) microgrid to power more than 20 buildings over 200 acres, including residences, offices, businesses and a vegetable farm.
“Each new partnership we establish moves the United States and our allies closer to energy independence,” said Dr. Richard Carlin, head of ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department. “This system is unique in that it uses direct current to power an entire community. While this concept is perfect for isolated and remote communities, it also could be used in the future on naval installations and even ships at sea to bring power to our Sailors and Marines wherever they are.”
Scientists in Thailand plan to establish another smart grid-powered village at the University of Phayao and introduce sustainable technologies to military barracks and other communities throughout the country.
ONR now has turned its attention to Vietnam, where there is an abundance of solar, biomass, wind, geothermal, hydro and other rich renewable energy sources. The U.S.-Vietnam collaboration also will take advantage of investments made in Hawaii, where ONR is sponsoring a study of electrical grids for three naval bases. As part of that initiative, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) and the Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii are working with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command to develop an action plan for the Navy’s energy needs in Hawaii.
“We are expanding our research collaboration to Vietnam to build off the success in Thailand and to support the United States in our pivot to the Asia-Pacific region,” said Dr. Cung Vu, ONR Global associate director for power and energy. “Vietnam’s remote rural, mountainous and island areas will benefit from ONR’s microgrid research, and the Navy will be able to increase its understanding of energy-efficient technologies through another key partnership.”
Gene Hammond and Mark Muncey, co-owners of Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing have endorsed E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent petroleum in motor gasoline). American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty thanked the motorclubs, who have members in all 50 states, for setting the record straight on E15.
Hammond, who has worked in the auto club business for 40 years said, “Not one of our over 18 million members has called us with a problem related to the new E15 fuel or any ethanol blend. Travelers Motor Club and Association Motor Club Marketing support the use of E15 in vehicles as a safe and affordable alternative to gasoline.”
Lamberty called it “eerily appropriate” for the auto clubs to speak out so close to Halloween. “Ethanol opponents have done a masterful job of devising E15 horror stories, and we appreciate these two motor clubs shining the light on the campaign being waged by Big Oil and AAA, and showing drivers that the E15 monsters aren’t real.”
“Real-world results trump ghost stories, and the real-world findings of these two auto clubs mirror what we have heard from fuel station owners who sell E15: they’ve had no customer complaints, no breakdowns, and no repair bills from drivers who fill-up with E15,” continued Lamberty. “In fact, because E15 is a higher-octane fuel that costs less than regular, stations with E15 are gaining customers and E15 has become the second highest volume fuel in most of the stations that sell it.”
Lamberty said the motor clubs’ announcement, coupled with last week’s U.S. Court of Appeals ruling rejecting an E15 lawsuit filed by Big Oil, automakers, and the small engine lobby, “offers hope that truth will win out over fear-mongering”. Continue reading