- Renewable Energy World Conference & Expo North America is now accepting abstract submissions for the 2014 conference program, December 9-11, 2014 in Orlando, Florida. Abstracts are due by March 14, 2014 and the Geothermal Energy Association is calling on the geothermal energy to submit abstracts for key projects. The conference sessions are organized into multiple concurrent session tracks: Large Scale Renewables; Distributed Generation; Utility Integration; Innovative Energy Partnerships; and Renewables and Global Market.
- Enphase Energy, Inc. has announced Richard Mora as the newest member of the Board of Directors. Mora is currently the chief operating officer of Landis+Gyr and brings a wealth of corporate strategy expertise, particularly in the smart grid and smart metering arena, to the Board.
- SunPower has awarded schools located in four California school districts a total of $85,000 in grants to support the implementation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curricula for students. The grants were facilitated in partnership with Project Lead The Way (PLTW), the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs. After successful completion of a competitive application process, school districts receiving the awards include Antioch, Compton, Tustin and West Contra Costa Unified.
- Renewable Waste Intelligence has commissioned a free whitepaper that features interviews with three industry specialists who give their perspectives on the North American AD & biogas industry. Interviews include: Harrison Clay, President, Clean Energy Renewable Fuels; Robert Joblin, Cenergy; and Julia Levin, Executive Director, Bioenergy Association of California.
On the surface it may seem like the technology for producing ethanol is pretty advanced. But when you talk with Darren Eng, CEO of Greenbelt Resources Corporation, they don’t believe today’s technology is near where it could be so they are continually striving for innovation.
Unlike the traditional biofuel producers who look at producing 25 million plus gallons per year, and send their ethanol all over the country and in some cases across the wide oceans, Eng says Greenbelt’s strategy is working with local communities to convert their waste to biofuels that are then used locally. And for a small community, a “small-scale,” system can range between 500,000 gallons per year (gpy) up to 2 million gpy. In line with this thinking, under 2 million gpy ethanol modules could soon be the new “big-scale”. In other words, Greenbelt’s technology is the perfect example of “community energy,” or locally owned energy projects, and they can produce modules from 100,000 to 2 million gpy.
“Our model is for our technology to be used to locally recycle (or process) locally generated feedstocks (ideally waste materials) into products that can be consumed locally,” said Eng. Greenbelt’s target feedstock is waste material and their suite of products include ethanol, filtered water and fertilizer. “So our target market,” continued Eng, “is anyone generating an appropriate feedstock at quantities too small to make it worth transporting long distances but large enough to take advantage of one of our systems.”
Eng explained that their technology can use a wide range of feedstocks to produce cellulosic ethanol and byproducts. Feedstock types include wastes from the ag and food industries; waste beverages and beverage bottling process waste; corn harvested for local dairy cow consumption; non-food alternative energy crop growers; island communities; and developing countries. In addition, he said farming consortiums in remote areas who can aggregate their wastes and/or low value crops and convert them into products they would otherwise have to pay high prices for due to the high cost of transportation because of their remoteness, is also a great target for their technology.
The Greenbelt technology is different than large-scale technologies in several ways. The company provides a commercially viable, small scale, modular, energy efficient feedstock-to-product ethanol production system. The overall system is semi-automated with their distillation and dehydration modules fully automated, explained Eng. “The front-end (typically fermentation) module only requires a minimal amount of manual labor each day for feedstock input. Additionally, the load out of products requires some oversight if not manual handling in some instances,” he added.
A key component to the system’s uniqueness and its high efficiency is the inclusion of a patent pending membrane dehydration module. Greenbelt is the only biofuel company that offers membrane technology. “Membrane use allows for a less complicated system design and requires about a third less energy compared to a molecular-sieve as a result of the complexity,” said Eng.
There is also a slight but simple difference in how it works. Continue reading
- President Obama has called upon the U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency to develop critically important new fuel economy standards for millions of semi-trucks, large vans, buses, and other large trucks that ply America’s highways. A new report from the Consumer Federation of America, Paying the Freight: The Consumer Benefits of Increasing the Fuel Economy of Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucks, finds that efficiency improvements for big trucks could save the average American household $250 dollars per year in the cost of consumer goods and services.
- This year 1412 students around the world are participating in the Valeo Innovation Challenge. A total of 969 teams of engineering students from 55 countries and representing 455 universities have submitted their projects, with the goal of winning the €100,000 first prize. Nearly 60 Valeo experts and a number of independent scientists will review each of the submitted projects to select the 20 teams that will continue on to the next stage of the contest. The 20 short-listed teams will be announced on April 15, 2014, and Valeo will grant each of them €5,000 to create a functioning prototype.
- BBI is calling for proposals for its upcoming International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana June 9-12, 2014. Tracks include: Production and Operations; Leadership and Financial Management; Coproducts and Product Diversification; and Cellulosic and Advanced Ethanol. Deadline to submit proposals is February 26, 2014.
- Microgrid Solar, headquartered in St. Louis, announced that is has received certification as a B Corporation. Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. These B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business. By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance, Certified B Corps are distinguishing themselves in a cluttered marketplace by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business.
Green Charge Networks can help retail chain customers and city municipalities save some green. The company, which specializes in intelligent energy storage, has signed agreements for 1 MW of energy storage with several organizations that are looking to reduce their electricity bills via smart grid technologies.
For example, it is common in California and New York City for business to pay 40 percent or more for their monthly electric bill in “demand charges” based on their electricity use during peak times. To reduce these costs, Green Charge Network uses its GreenStation technology. It works by collecting utility and weather data to predict peak use and store energy accordingly.
7-Eleven stores have been using GCN’s GreenStation successfully for the past two years. One 7-Eleven GreenStation in New York endured Hurricane Sandy and then went on to save the business 56 percent on their electricity bills during the 2013 summer heat wave. Green Charge Networks is adding to its list of customers including 7-Eleven, Walgreens, office buildings, community colleges, and municipalities, adding up to 1 MW as listed on the DOE’s Global Energy Storage Database.
“It is a big accomplishment to our company to help businesses and local governments use power more efficiently,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge Networks. “1 MW marks a very significant milestone for Green Charge Networks as we continue to diversify our customer base and increase our penetration in the rapidly growing intelligent energy storage market. Energy efficiency initiatives can only take us so far. The era of power efficiency using advanced software is the next frontier in energy savings.”
It is no secret that America’s aging grid needs to be reborn. Yet with the billions, if not trillions, of dollars it would take to accomplish this and ongoing fights on who should pay for the updates (utilities/consumers or state and federal governments) smart grid technologies can help immediately reduce electricity demand on the overstressed grid.
Experts also say that they are also a good tool in both climate change adaptation and mitigation. Green Charge Networks points out that GreenStation is designed to withstand storms as fierce as Hurricane Sandy or temperatures as extreme as the recent polar vortex. In addition, Green Charge Networks says if smart grid technologies like GreenStation were implemented nationally they could save the energy equivalent of 4,000 coal plants per year.
The National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) and the Funding of Innovation and Research (FINEP) have announced a new program to encourage agricultural innovation for the Brazilian sugarcane industry. The goal of PAISS is to spur innovation and research that achieves gains in increasing productivity while lowering production costs. The PAISS complements the similar plan launched by BNDES and FINEP in 2011.
Enabling investments in agricultural innovation contributes to a renewal of the gains in productivity and to reductions in production costs. “It’s a step that can help us reach a new virtuous circle of investment to expand the production capacity of the sugarcane industry,” said Elizabeth Farina, the president of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).
Farina noted that 60 percent of the production costs of ethanol and sugar lies in agricultural production. “The agricultural costs are already high and are in the ascendant, unlike the costs of industrial processing of sugarcane, which has been the subject of research and investment that has resulted in lower costs,” Farina explained.
UNICA data show that during the boom years of the sugarcane industry, between 2002 and 2010, the cost of agricultural production amounted to U.S. $15 per tonne while today this cost has doubled to nearly U.S. $30 per tonne.
Farina noted that the industry has adopted new and advanced technologies with unique speed, as observed in the process of mechanization of the harvest. This is leading to the elimination of burning the cane fields. “But the fact is that in the effort to mechanize the industry literally changed processes without research by adapting existing technology used for manually harvesting sugarcane. Over five years, the industry has adapted to the sugarcane machines, not the machines to sugarcane. It will probably take another five years to find better answers,” added Farina.
Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are expanding in Las Vegas, Nevada and Houston, Texas. MGM Resorts International has announced the largest installation of EV charging stations in Nevada while IKEA has announced the addition of EV charging stations at its store located in Houston, Texas.
MGM is installing 27 EV charging stations at nine of their Las Vegas resorts as well as at their corporate offices. Additional stations will be available at Circus Circus in Reno, Nevada. The charging stations, which will be installed in guest garages and valet areas, will be available for employees and guests to use at no cost.
“It is important that our guests have the convenience and ability to continue sustainable habits during their time with us,” said Cindy Ortega, Chief Sustainability Officer of MGM Resorts International. “The installation of these charging stations encourages green practices in both our guests and employees, serving as a natural step toward smarter, cleaner transportation systems.”
Drivers will be able to access real-time information about the EV charging stations via a ChargePoint mobile application, which shows whether a station is open in addition to the percentage of charge on the vehicle, when the vehicle is fully charged and when a charging nozzle has been removed. Each charger is equipped with two Level 2 charging ports supplying up to 7.2 kW, full motion color LCD display and a robust cord retraction system. All units will have the industry standard SAE J1772 charging ports.
“The installation of EV charging stations provides yet another draw to visit and stay at the MGM Resort properties,” said Pasquale Romano, CEO of ChargePoint, the largest network of EV charging stations in the nation. “This project shows MGM’s commitment to sustainability and continued leadership. It also represents a significant benefit to MGM’s guests and employees alike, and allows ChargePoint to move closer to our goal of providing charging wherever people work, shop, eat and play.”
Four charging stations at Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand Las Vegas and Circus Circus Reno have already been installed and are fully operational. Installation of the remaining EV charging stations is expected to be complete by the end of February 2014. MGM Resorts installed its first charging stations in 2011 at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place and The Shops at Crystals. In 2012, an additional station was installed at its corporate office.
IKEA has plugged-in two Blink EV charging stations at its Houston store as part of its partnership with Car Charging Group, Inc., the new owner of the Blink Network and Blink charging stations, and the largest provider of EV charging services with more than 13,750 charging points in 35 states and three countries. To charge an EV at IKEA Houston, drivers pull into a designated parking spot, tap their Blink InCard (RFID card) to the reader below the screen, plug the charger into the EV and then shop and eat at their leisure in the IKEA store while the vehicle is charging. This initiative represents the 12th such U.S. project for IKEA, with installation underway at other locations.
- Blue Bird Corporation recently announced its 2013 Supplier Award winners. Revealed at Blue Bird’s Supplier Conference, select industry suppliers were awarded for their commitment to quality, innovation, service and cost management. Blue Bird presented the 2013 Supplier of the Year award to ROUSH CleanTech, manufacturer of propane autogas fuel systems and tanks. Click here to view all the winners.
- Beginning February 19, ReneSola will launch a series of free North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) accredited training events in 18 cities across North America. Attendees will learn about ReneSola’s latest inverter and module product lines, while earning three NABCEP credits. Lunch, happy hour, giveaways, and door prizes will be provided by ReneSola.
- Duke Energy has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for 300 megawatts (MW) of new solar energy capacity in its Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress territories. The new capacity would be in service by the end of 2015.
- The U.S. Interior Department and U.S. Geological Survey have teamed up to develop the first national wind turbine map and database, and is available to the public. The interactive map and geo-dataset shows more than 47,000 onshore wind turbine locations and related information across the entire United States.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled that its investigation into anti-dumping and countervailing duties for solar cell products from China and Taiwan will move forward. The announcement was made public following a preliminary phase vote in Washington, DC.
The anti-dumping and countervailing duty on solar cells issue stems from a compliant initiated by Frank Asbeck and his company SolarWorld back in 2013. This was the second complaint brought against Taiwan and China by SolarWorld accusing solar manufacturing companies of anti-dumping practices with the first complaint focused on solar cells produced in China that Asbeck argued was negatively affecting PV cell competition of U.S. manufacturers. The second complaint centered on the alleged practices of companies getting around the duties attached to PV cells produced in China by circumventing the system through the production of PV cells in Taiwan.
In response to the ruling, Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), said, “With the ITC’s preliminary ruling in favor of SolarWorld’s petition to impose tariffs on imported solar products, it is now official: a German company is one step closer to manipulating U.S. trade procedure in order to prop up its own failing business and inflict harm on a job-creating industry. By raising the cost of solar for American homeowners, SolarWorld is poised to inflict critical damage on an industry which last year added more than 20,000 solar installation, sales, and distribution jobs to the U.S. economy.”
“These hard-working Americans now look to President Obama to broker a common sense solution which will avoid damage to the economy and allow the deployment of clean renewable energy to continue into the 21st Century,” continued Shah.
He concluded, “Just this past week, the U.S. Trade Representative publicly condemned the protectionist solar policies of India because, in his words, protectionist policies would ‘actually impede India’s deployment of solar energy by raising its cost.’ CASE implores the U.S. government to adopt the same perspective before a burgeoning U.S. industry is harmed for the benefit of one German company.”
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has released its Advancements in Algal Biofuels: Year in Review. The goal of BETO is to support advanced in the production of algal biofuel – especially those that lower the cost of production.
- Fast algae-to-bio-crude oil process reduces production costs – DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is receiving national recognition for developing a process to turn algae into bio-crude oil in just minutes. PNNL’s technology eliminates the lipid extraction step and subjects whole algae to very hot water under high pressure to convert the algae biomass into bio-crude oil (a process called hydrothermal liquefaction). PNNL successfully treated wet algae biomass in a commercially relevant, continuous process that doesn’t require drying steps or solvents to make the bio-crude oil.
- Discovery in algae cell biology overcomes key challenge to algal biofuels – Researchers at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO) made a significant breakthrough in the metabolic engineering of algae to improve yield of lipids (the energy-storing fat molecules that can be used in biofuel production). Algae typically only accumulate lots of lipids when they are starved for nutrients, but the drawback to starvation is that it limits organism growth. The SIO research team genetically engineered a disruption in the synthesis of the enzymes that breakdown the storage lipids that are produced during normal growth, allowing for lots of lipid accumulation without starving the algae. The resulting algae both grow fast and accumulate lipid at the same time. The high lipid yields that result from utilizing this method can potentially improve the economics of algal biofuel production.
- Collaborative outdoor algae production testing facilities come online – Two national algae R&D testbed programs kicked off their project work in 2013. The Arizona State University-led Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) and the University of Arizona Regional Algae Feedstock Testbed Partnership manage algal biofuel R&D facilities across the United States and serve as engines for algal technology innovation and validation, job training and workforce development, and long-term cultivation data.
In response to the report, the National Algae Association’s (NAA) Barry Cohen said that while the advancements might be news in Washington, none of them are newsworthy to the algae production industry.
For example, Cohen said the work being done at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is not news. “Hydrothermal liquefaction is another name for a process that has been used in petroleum refining for more than 100 years.”
He also noted in regards to the two national algae testbeds that NAA has not been able to independently verify the status of any of the facilities. “NAA has, however, created its own online Algae Production Certification Course and its second algae production incubator facility is operational,” said Cohen.
Read NAA’s full remarks regarding the report here.
The British Virgin Islands, Columbia, Dominica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia and Turks and Caicos have joined the Carbon War Room and Rocky Mountain Institute’s ‘Ten Island Renewable Challenge‘. The campaign is designed to help get the islands off fossil fuels as well as move forward with projects for schools and hospitals. The commitments were complemented by news that Virgin Limited Edition and Sir Richard Branson, who had committed Necker to the ‘Ten Island Renewable Challenge’ as a ‘demo’ island, awarded the contract to transition it on to renewables to U.S. energy firm NRG.
“What we hope to do is use Necker as a test island to show how it can be done,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group and Carbon War Room. “The only way we’re going to win this war is by creative entrepreneurship, to make the price of clean energy cheaper than that of energy from fossil fuels.”
Caribbean nations lack access to low-cost power because of the small size of their national market and an absence of standardized contracts and regional regulatory systems. In some cases, local energy suppliers, locked in for many years, currently enjoy a virtual monopoly over the system and creditworthiness is also a challenge for many nations. As a result, banks have been reticent to lend money for energy projects.
“Islands are a microcosm of larger energy systems around the world and offer an excellent test bed to demonstrate and scale innovative, clean energy solutions,” said Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute. “We’re pleased to bring our decades of experience helping businesses and communities cost-effectively shift to efficiency and renewables to help island nations move beyond clean energy roadmaps to tangible, on-the-ground results.”
With the time period over for comments regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard proposal, many people are asking: What’s next? The EPA is now tasked with reviewing all the comments and this will prove to be quite an undertaking as more than 40,000 comments were submitted. It is anticipated that it will take several months before the EPA publishes their final proposal.
In the meantime, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is highlighting all the positive comments that were sent to the EPA from citizens representing all walks of life. This despite, said RFA, the attempts of the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) automated robo-call campaign. A review of EPA’s docket by RFA revealed that tens of thousands of Americans from across the country used unique stories and anecdotes to express their opposition to EPA’s proposal to reduce the 2014 RFS volumes. In contrast, API’s robo-call initiative resulted in tens of thousands of identical comments, replete with false statements and trite myths.
According to RFA, API’s robo-calls used a “salacious automated message to tell listeners that more ethanol would cause ‘higher food prices and damaged car engines’”. The robo-calls described American farmers as “extremists” and said “[w]e need the EPA to stand up for American families.” The automated call concluded by directing recipients to “press 1 now” to send a pre-written message to EPA supporting the proposed rule. Unfortunately, said RFA, thousands of Americans were duped by API’s underhanded tactics.
“Unlike the cold, impersonal, fear-induced robo-calls used by Big Oil to the level of absurdity, a diverse group of ethanol supporters often took the time to personally write to the EPA in opposition to the blending cuts,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO. “Farmers, ethanol producers, and other renewable fuels supporters explained in great, vivid personal detail how the reductions would hurt their businesses, families, and local communities. I hope the EPA will distinguish the difference between the mass robo-call responses and the in-depth individual comments written by those most knowledgeable on the impact of the proposed reduction of the RFS. The decision the EPA and White House are about to make will have a lasting effect for years to come.”
API’s antics are overshadowed, said RFA, by the genuine and heartfelt comments from a wide array of stakeholders about the real impacts of EPA’s decision. Bankers, high school and college students, equipment dealers, county commissioners, university presidents, mayors, auto repair shop owners, military veterans, auto dealers, construction workers, engineers, port authority executives, clean air advocates, workers in the automobile, aircraft and farm equipment manufacturing industries, gas station equipment suppliers, seed companies, and college professors joined thousands of farmers and biofuel producers in urging EPA to reverse its proposal.
- The U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman has announced the 20 collegiate teams selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 to take place in the Orange County Great Park. The 20 worldwide teams will now begin the nearly two-year process of building solar-powered houses that are affordable, innovative and highly energy-efficient.
- The Commercial Algae Cultivation, Harvesting, Extraction Technologies and Networking Workshop is taking place February 28, 2014 at Kessil Lighting located at 1689 Regatta Blvd in Richmond, CA 94804. Speakers include Barry Cohen, executive director of the National Algae Association; Will Thurmond, CEO of Emerging Markets Online; Robert Henrikson, CEO, Smart MicroFarms; Jose Sanchez, VP Quality Control and Assurance, OriginOil; and more. Registration is still open.
- Juhl Energy, a provider of Clean Energy Solutions and a Leader in Community Wind Power, today announced that they have acquired PV Power, Inc., a leading online distributor of solar power systems and solar components to industry professionals, contractors and consumers across the country.
- EnerNOC, Inc., a provider of energy intelligence software (EIS), has announced that it has acquired Entelios AG, a leading provider of demand response in Europe. This acquisition accelerates EnerNOC’s entry into continental Europe with Entelios’ strong team and existing relationships with leading grid operators, utilities, retailers, and commercial, institutional, and industrial customers.
Growth Energy is holding its fifth annual executive leadership conference at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona, from February 27, 2014 through March 2, 2014.
The conference will open on Thursday at 7:00 am and will showcase a number of speakers, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
During the opening day of the conference, there will be key addresses, including a “Chairman’s Report” from Growth Energy Board of Directors Co-Chair and Executive Chairman of POET, Jeff Broin and a “State of the Industry” address from Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Taking it to the Streets,” and a major focus will be on building out the necessary infrastructure so higher blends of renewables, such as E15, will be available to retailers and consumers. Another important topic will be the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), its future and how this policy has successfully helped drive innovation, investment and growth within the biofuels industry.
Guests will also hear unique global perspectives on the future of agriculture, the future of energy, NASCAR and the political landscape from speakers including: Harry Stine of the Stine Seed Company; Richard Childress and Austin Dillon from Richard Childress Racing; noted political analyst, Charlie Cook; and several others.
To cap off the conference, all attendees are invited to join Growth Energy at the Phoenix International Raceway during the Sprint Cup race on Sunday to cheer on American Ethanol, one of NASCAR’s official sponsors.
Growth Energy will be live streaming much of the conference at for those unable to attend.
Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) have introduced a bill to extend the expired biodiesel tax incentive for three years. The bill, S. 2021, would extend the tax incentive until 2017.
In response to the bill’s introduction, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) called on Congress to move swiftly on the tax legislation.
“On behalf of biodiesel producers across the country, we want to thank Sens. Cantwell and Grassley for their leadership on this issue,” said NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “The biodiesel tax incentive has expired three times over the past five years, and each time it has severely disrupted production. By comparison, we know that at least $4 billion in incentives encouraging domestic petroleum production are built into the tax code. We need that same kind of stability for younger, cleaner industries like biodiesel and renewable diesel to compete.”
“This incentive clearly stimulates production and creates jobs at biodiesel plants across the country, and we urge the leadership of both parties to quickly take up this bill to ensure that we can continue the momentum that the biodiesel industry built last year with record production of almost 1.8 billion gallons,” Steckel added.
The $1-per-gallon incentive covers biodiesel, renewable diesel – a similar diesel alternative made with a different technology – and renewable aviation fuel. First implemented in 2005, it expired on Dec. 31, 2013. It also was allowed to lapse in 2012 and 2010. The bill would extend the tax incentive until 2017, providing the tax certainty the industry needs to gain access to capital and plan for production expansions and additional hiring.
SolarReserve has confirmed that the 110 megawatt (MW) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project located near Tonopah, Nevada, has entered the plant commissioning phase. According to the company, Crescent Dunes is the first utility-scale facility in the world to feature advanced molten salt power tower energy storage capabilities. The Crescent Dunes Project is more than five times the capacity output of pilot projects that have previously tested this technology.
Due to the result of the advanced energy storage technology, the 110 MW project will generate more than 500,000 megawatt-hours per year, enough to power 75,000 homes during peak electricity periods. This annual output, says the company, is more than twice that of other technologies per MW of capacity, such as photovoltaics (PV) or direct steam solar thermal. The storage technology also eliminates the need for any backup fossil fuels, such as natural gas, which are needed with other technologies to keep the system going during times of no or low solar resource. Nevada’s largest electric utility, NV Energy, will purchase 100 percent of the electricity generated, under a 25-year power purchase agreement. Full commercial operation is scheduled for later in 2014.
Commissioning is the initial stage of bringing the project into operations and includes system-by-system verification and startup, as well as equipment calibration and testing. Commissioning activities underway at Crescent Dunes include energization of the utility interconnection system and other electrical systems, as well as the first stages of testing and calibration of the heliostat field. This heliostat field is comprised of more than 10,000 “billboard-sized” mirrors that track the sun and total more than 1 million square meters of glass.
“Start of commissioning of the Crescent Dunes solar power plant marks a critical milestone for the project as well as the solar industry. We are now able to build utility-scale power plants, fueled only by the sun, which operate on-demand, day and night, just like traditional fossil fuel or nuclear power plants,” said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. “SolarReserve’s industry-leading solar thermal energy storage technology solves the intermittency issue that limits the use of other renewable energy projects and thus enables firm, reliable delivery of electricity whether or not the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.”
SolarReserve’s energy storage technology at the Crescent Dunes plant is their techology showcase. They say it is a realistic solar energy solution that operates day and night like coal, natural gas, oil, diesel and nuclear plants, but without the harmful emissions or hazardous wastes associated those traditional plants. Additionally, Crescent Dunes includes the capability to dry cool the steam cycle, an environmentally friendly low water use feature that will saves millions of gallons of water each year. Once operational, the 110 MW Crescent Dunes plant will be the world’s largest solar thermal plant with fully integrated energy storage.