Panasonic Corp Installs Power Supply Container

powercontainer_Karimun0012Panasonic Corporation has developed an interesting offshoot of solar energy: Power Supply Container. The stand-alone photovoltaic power package was installed for the National Elementary School Karimunjawa 01 in Karimunjawa Island, Jepara District, Central Jawa Province, Indonesia. The Power Supply Container is equipped with 12 Panasonic “HIT(R)240” solar modules that the company said has high conversion efficiency and can generate approximately 3 kW of electricity. It can also provide stored power from 24 built-in lead-acid storage batteries (17.2 kWh as total).

Karimunjawa is an area where electricity is available at night using diesel generators. However, in the daytime these generators are stopped and no electricity can be used by the residents of the village. As no power for the village during the daytime interferes with administrative and commercial activities, improvement of the educational environment had been the top priority for the island. To solve this social issue, Koperasi Pundih Artah, which received Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security, Institute of Business and Economic Democracy Foundation (IBEKA) and Panasonic launched a project for improving the educational environment, by supplying and installing the Power Supply Container, under the cooperation of Jepara District and the Embassy of Japan in Indonesia.

To celebrate the introduction of “daytime electricity” a handover ceremony was held with Koperasi Pundih Artah and IBEKA. Now, during school hours, children can use LED lighting fixtures, ceiling fans and audiovisual educational materials using PCs and TVs. When there are no classes, the electricity is sold to nearby areas through a management association of the Power Supply Container topowercontainer_Karimun0017 contribute to activation of the regional community and improve the regional electricity infrastructure.

IBEKA is giving support for establishing management associations in Karimunjawa for independent operation of power supplies as well as provides training and supports for their operation, management and maintenance to achieve a sustainable power supply in Karimunjawa. Panasonic will continue to work with groups in Indonesia to bring more Power Supply Containers to areas without reliable electricity.

UN: Biofuels to Grow Faster than Food Crops

UNoecdfaoTwo United Nations agencies say biofuel production will grow faster than food crops. This report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations says prices for the major crops worldwide have dropped significantly from record highs in the last couple of years due to the recent bumper crops of 2013 and 2014. In addition, ethanol and biodiesel prices are down due to plenty of feedstocks for the green fuels.

In the next decade, livestock and biofuel production are projected to grow at higher rates than crop production. This changing structure of global agricultural production prompts a relative shift toward coarse grains and oilseeds to meet demands for food, feed and biofuel, away from staple food crops like wheat and rice. The bulk of the additional production will originate in regions where determining factors, such as land and water availability, and policy regulations, are the least constraining.

Crop prices are expected to drop for one or two more years, before stabilizing at levels that remain above the pre-2008 period, but significantly below recent peaks. Meat, dairy and fish prices are expected to rise. In real terms, however, prices for both crops and animal products are projected to decline over the medium term. The expected stock-to-use ratios for cereals improve significantly, which should ease concerns about their price volatility.

The report goes on to say that the Americas will be the dominant export region for crops and biofuels, while Africa and Asia will increase their net imports to meet their growing demands.

Bringing Solar Power to Rural India

The Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress (CAP) have launched a new video series, “Harnessing the Sun to Keep the Lights on in India”. The series documents the health, economic, and environmental benefits to local communities living in Uttar Pradesh, India, a rural, low-income, off-the-electric-grid region that is rapidly becoming a hotbed of solar activity. The film provides a first-hand look at the companies seeking to make good on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to provide solar for all citizens by 2019.

“Hundreds of millions of low-income, rural Indians have been suffering from energy poverty for decades. With little access to reliable energy, they’re depending on dirty fossil fuels like kerosene to light their homes and that has serious health effects. Solar power is the key to ending energy poverty,” said Justin Guay, associate director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate Program.

This past spring, Guay traveled to Uttar Pradesh with Vrinda Manglik, Associate Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club, and Andrew Satter, Director of Video at the Center for American Progress. They spent a week visiting innovative companies like Simpa Networks and OMC Power that deliver everything from LED lightbulbs to mobile phone charging with the help of innovative pay-as-you-go solutions. They also visited villages and interviewed people living beyond the grid and benefiting from companies expanding clean energy access.

According to Sierra Club, around the world, 1.4 billion people lack modern, reliable electricity; they are living in energy poverty. In India alone, approximately 400 million Indians are living in energy poverty. Those who do have power suffer from chronic unreliability issues as well as pollution from coal-fired power plants that kill more than 100,000 people every year. But innovative companies and entrepreneurs are creating a booming market for distributed energy beyond the grid in India and providing a clean and affordable energy source that is improving the health and quality of life for many people.

“Energy poverty is a hurdle for economic mobility and improving the livelihoods of billions of people around the world. Energy is necessary for social, economic, and environmental progress. Electricity access allows for lighting into the evening hours, which can be used for studying or running a business. It is required to keep schools open and health centers running,” added Rebecca Lefton, Senior Policy Analyst for CAP.

Leading up to the world premiere of the video, the Sierra Club and CAP released a series of behind-the-scenes video clips of their week in India, filmed using Google Glass. The technology was used for translations from Hindi to English, flight information, navigation, and the filming of parts of the video series.

DNV GL Identify Solar Module Quality Leaders

DNV GL has released its new PV Module Reliability Scorecard 2014, that found that nearly 2/3 of the cumulative 130 gigawatts of installed solar photovoltaic modules in the world were produced in the last three years. This period marked record module price reductions as well as module manufacturers’ aggressive cost reductions. This cost reduction, finds the Scorecard, has led to questions around long-term PV performance and module quality while at the same time, projects are being built in more extreme and diverse environmental condition then ever before.

To address these concerns, the Scorecard identifies module manufacturers’ reliability performance from a standardized accelerated life testing program. The Scorecard supports PV project developers, EPCs, investors and asset managers in their evaluation of leading module manufacturers and is a critical tool for quality-backed procurement strategies.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 8.20.58 AMGTM Research has compiled data from DNV GL’s highly accelerated life testing (HALT) on major global PV module manufacturers. Participating manufacturers were subject to rigorous tests designed to mimic real world environmental stresses and identify potential long-term quality issues and failure modes. The Scorecard goes beyond standard module qualification and certification tests and allows the industry to identify the spectrum of performance differences across the module vendor landscape.

In the Scorecard, GTM Research found that module vendors performed relatively well across all metrics, with a few exceptions on specific tests. However, “module reliability is not necessarily a consistent quality. Of all vendors analyzed, only one company consistently ranked within the Performance Leaders group for all test regimens,” wrote report author and solar analyst Jade Jones.

“While all modules met the regulatory UL requirements, long term real world performance is not simply pass/fail. More robust module designs were clearly identified,” said Jenya Meydbray, Head of Module & Inverter testing at DNV GL and former PVEL CEO.

Tests in the Scorecard program include extended thermal cycling, damp heat, humidity-freeze, dynamic mechanical load, and potential induced degradation for positively and negatively biased modules.

Wind Power Growth Surging Where Supported

According to Worldwatch Research Associate Mark Konold and Climate and Energy Intern Xiangyu Wu, double-digit growth continued in the global wind market in 2013. In the latest Vital Signs, the writers state that there are 318 GW of wind capacity online today with 35 GW added in 2013. However, the growth was a significant drop from the average growth rate over the last 10 years (21%). In addition, overall investment declined slightly from $80.9 billion in 2012 to $80.3 billion in 2013.

In 2013, offshore wind capacity continued to see growth as projects became larger and moved into deeper waters. Until recently, deep-water offshore wind has developed on foundations adapted from the oil and gas industry, but deeper waters and harsher weather have become formidable challenges requiring newly designed equipment. Shipbuilders are expanding to make larger vessels to transport bigger equipment and longer and larger subsea cables to more-distant offshore projects.

wind_power_figure_1_0It’s these trends, write the authors, that have kept prices high in recent years. As of early 2014, the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for offshore wind power-which includes the cost of the plant’s full operational and financial life-was up to nearly $240 per megawatt-hour (MWh). By comparison, the LCOE of onshore wind installations in various regions of the world is under $150 per MWh, having fallen about 15 percent between 2009 and early 2014.

According to the authors, onshore, wind-generated power is becoming more cost-competitive against new coal- or gas-fired plants, even without incentives and support schemes. Over the past few years, capital costs of wind power have decreased because of large technological advances such as larger machines with increased power yield, higher hub height, longer blades, and greater nameplate capacity (which indicates the maximum output of a wind turbine).

Tighter competition among manufacturers continues to drive down capital costs, and the positioning of the world’s top manufacturers continues to shift. The top 10 turbine manufacturers captured nearly 70 percent of the global market in 2013, down from 77 percent the year before.

In addition, the writers found that in an effort to maintain profitability, manufacturers are trying new strategies, such as moving away from just manufacturing turbines. Some companies focus more on project operation and maintenance, which guarantees a steady business even during down seasons and can increase overall value in an increasingly competitive market. Some manufacturers are also turning to outsourcing and flexible manufacturing, which can lower overall costs and protect firms from exchange rate changes, customs duties, and logistical issues associated with shipping large turbines and parts.

Offshore Wind Fastest Growing Power Sector in Europe

Offshore wind energy development in Europe is the fastest growing power sector with 4.9 GW of new capacity under construction according to the European Wind Energy (EWEA). The 4.9 GW will be comprised of 16 commercial offshore wind farms under construction.

EWEA 2014 Statistics ReportDuring the first six months of 2014, 224 new offshore wind turbines totaling 781 megawatts were fully connected tot the grid. This is 25 percent less than during the same period in 2013. However, there are 282 wind turbines installed that have not been connected to the grid during the first six months. Once connected, this will add an additional 1,200 MW of offshore wind energy capacity.

“Despite offshore wind power installations being lower than in the first six months of last year, it remains the fastest growing power sector in Europe” said Justin Wilkes, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at EWEA. “However, despite significant financing activity in the first half of the year, the contraction in installations we have witnessed in these first six months, may well continue into 2015 and 2016.”

“To ensure healthy growth in the latter part of the decade, and to ensure offshore wind energy plays its role in meeting the EU’s competitiveness, security, renewable and climate objectives, the industry must be given longer-term visibility,” Wilkes continued. “An ambitious deal on the 2030 Climate and Energy package by the EU’s Heads of State in October would send the right signal, making their decision particularly important for the offshore wind sector,” he concluded.

Total installed offshore wind capacity in Europe is now 7,343 MW in 73 wind farms across 11 countries, capable of producing 27 TWh of electricity, enough to meet the needs of over 7 million households – or the entire population of the Netherlands.

Researchers Make Green Plastic from Biodiesel By-Product

csirlogoResearchers in India have created a green plastic from the biodiesel by-product glycerin. This article from the Business Times says the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI) developed the biodegradable plastic from a jatropha-based biodiesel process.

“We had initiated a research on using the residue of bio-diesel to be converted to plastic.The idea of green plastic came as a result of our concern to effectively utilize the crude glycerol which is the byproduct of the Jatropha biodiesel,” said S Mishra, principal scientist, CSMCRI.

Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and CSMCRI have started research related to the development of ‘green plastic’ in 2005 during the second phase of the project entitled ‘Biofuels from eroded soils of India” sponsored by Daimler Chrysler, Germany.

More than 500 gms. of green plastic has already been produced in the laboratory at gram scale which was distributed to some firms for research analysis and studies on its further applications in bio-medical area. “Now ,our target is to scale up the process from gram to kilogram scale per batch production. Besides, we are also trying to improve functional/physical properties of the product,” she added.

A European patent has been granted for these bioplastics that degrade in the soil in three months.

The institute is also looking at developing algae found in the Indian coastline to be made into biodiesel.

EU Tariffs on U.S. Biodiesel Could be Renewed

USEUflagsTariffs by the European Union against American biodiesel could be renewed. This article from Bloomberg says the EU is threatening to renew the tariffs of up to $323 per metric ton based on some probes against Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the world’s biggest corn processor, and Cargill Inc.

The inquiries will determine whether the expiry of the import taxes would be likely to lead to a “continuation or recurrence” of subsidization and dumping and of “injury” to EU producers, the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc’s trade authority in Brussels, said today in the Official Journal. The anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties were due to lapse tomorrow and will now stay in place during the investigations, which can last as long as 15 months.

The subsidy and dumping cases highlight tensions accompanying EU and U.S. efforts to expand global trade in biofuels. Biofuels, which also include ethanol, are a renewable energy from crops such as rapeseed, corn, wheat and sugar. In a separate trans-Atlantic commercial dispute, the EU in 2013 imposed a five-year anti-dumping duty on U.S. bioethanol.

U.S. exports to the EU of the type of biodiesel covered by the European anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties were valued at $1 billion a year and came to a virtual halt after the bloc imposed the levies in July 2009. In May 2011, the EU widened the duties to cover more blends and extended the levies to Canada, saying American exporters dodged the trade protection.

The investigation also comes as the EU is trying to meet its own goal of at least 10 percent of land transportation fuels to come from biofuels in 2020 and more than double the share of overall use of renewable energy in the EU to 20 percent.

Globeleq Inaugurates Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm

Globeleq has inaugurated its latest wind energy project in South Africa. The 138 MW Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm is located between the towns of Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp in Eastern Cape and has an estimated annual production of 460 GWh and will provide renewable electricity for nearly 100,000 average South African households.

Jeffreys Bay Wind-Farm-SunsetBack in April, Globeleq marked the start of operations at two solar facilities, the 50 MW De Aar and 50 MW Droogfontein installations on the Northern Cape. All facilities are part of South Africa’s renewable energy program and according to the company, are among the very first large scale renewable power plants to be built in the country.

Mikael Karlsson, Globeleq’s CEO said, “The completion of these facilities is the result of a truly global partnership with the Government of South Africa and Eskom and the private sector of developers, investors, lenders, constructors, suppliers and the local community. It demonstrates significant support for independent private power producers in the region and indicates the sustainability of the renewable energy sector. As the leading African private power company, Globeleq is committed to pursue further investments in clean and reliable power for the region.”

Similar to other countries, South Africa has identified job creation and skills development through development of renewable energy. During the wind farm’s construction, Globeleq said more than 700 people worked on the site, of which 45 percent were drawn from the local community. A percentage of the project’s operational revenues will be reinvested into the local community through socio-economic and enterprise development programs creating the skills needed to support the growth of the renewable energy industry in South Africa.

“What an exciting time to be a part of this industry. In such a short period we have built an alternative source of energy which will provide ongoing benefits for the country and the industry alike,” said Mark Pickering, Managing Director of Globeleq South Africa.

Globeleq is the majority shareholder in a consortium group, consisting of Mainstream, Old Mutual, Thebe, Enzani, Usizo and the Amadla Omoya Trust. Globeleq through its wholly owned South African subsidiary, manages the operation and commercial aspects of the Jeffreys Bay, De Aar and Droogfontein facilities.

Aemetis’ Biodiesel Gains EPA, EU Approvals

aemetislogo1A California-based company making biodiesel in India has gained important approvals from the U.S. government and the European Union. This news release from Aemetis, Inc. says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved issuance of D4 Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for Aemetis’ imported biodiesel produced from waste fats and oils (WFO) at Aemetis’ 50 million gallon per year plant on the East Coast of India, as well as the EU certification.

The superior quality and low carbon intensity biodiesel produced at the Aemetis India plant has recently earned [the EU's] International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) Category 2 certification. With the recent construction and commissioning of a biodiesel distillation column at the India plant, the company is producing a colorless biodiesel with 99.5% esters and nearly no monoglycerides, water or other contaminants. Aemetis biodiesel has met and exceeds all D6751 biodiesel specifications, allowing for use in all diesel engines.

“Receiving ISCC Category 2 and EPA certifications are great steps in ramping up India to full capacity with the capability to grow and implement new technologies,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “After the successful installation of the India plant distillation unit, in June Aemetis made its first shipment of Category 2 biodiesel to customers in the E.U.” added McAfee.

Aemetis’ India plant is able to make biodiesel from a wide variety of feedstocks.

UK Company Offering 100% Biodiesel Marine Motor

A company in the United Kingdom is carrying a line of marine motors able to run on 100 percent biodiesel. Mermaid Marine says it has the Citius series of heavy duty engines from AGCO SISU Power, which is unique in being the only common rail engine available and is approved to run on pure biodiesel with no compromise in performance.

citiusmarineengine1“The importance of biodiesel is continuously increasing with biodiesel such as rapeseed accepted as an alternative fuel for use in engines,” explained Mermaid Marine sales executive Julian Osborne. “The fuel – either 100% biodiesel alone, or in any mixture ratio with diesel fuel according to EN 590 or ASTM D975, can be used in all the engines which are equipped with a mechanic or electronically controlled injection pump.”

AGCO SISU Power, formerly Sisu Diesel, was originally founded in 1942 and since then has produced engines known for their quality and reliability. The engines are built at the company’s main factory in Finland and comply with IMO 2 emission regulations and are future proofed for the forthcoming IMO 3 legislation.

Direct injection technology, crossflow cylinder head, centrally supported cylinder liners – unique in engines of this size – and advanced turbocharger technology have been everyday features in SisuDiesel engines for decades.

The engines have been designed for reliability, low operating costs and easy servicing. Classic, sturdy basic construction is combined with new generation control electronics and modern injection system, producing an engine that meets even the most demanding user needs.

You can get the engines in four and six cylinder versions from 130hp to 410hp. Mermaid Marine says they are designed for extreme conditions from blistering equatorial heat to the harsh winters of Northern Europe.

Windiga Energy to Become Indepedent Solar Producer

Burkina Faso, located in Africa, is going solar. Windiga Energy will become the first independent solar energy producer in the country with the signing of an investment support agreement. The company has selected Siemens Energy Smart Generation Solutions to build and operate the 20MW photovoltaic power plant to be located in Zina, in the Mouhoun province. The solar power system is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2015 and will be the largest PV power facility in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Burkina FasoThe Honourable Edward Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade who was in Burkina Faso as part of a trade mission to Africa congratulated Windiga for the signing of the historic agreement saying, “This US $50 million project will help to meet the country’s electricity needs.”

The electricity will sold to the National Electric Company of Burkina (SONABEL) through a 25 year power purchase agreement. Funding for the project includes monies from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Frontier Markets Fund Managers and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund.

“We are very pleased with the support that we received from both the Governments of Burkina Faso and Canada allowing us to conclude this strategic agreement that will bring about the construction of a major renewable energy project and the launch of the solar energy industry in Burkina Faso,” said Benoit La Salle, president and CEO, Windiga Energy. “This power plant will also contribute to the economic development of the region, employing about 150 Burkinabé workers during the construction phase.”

La Salle added, “The strong support and commitment of our employees, our African colleagues and our legal advisors, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, were key to the success of this historic agreement.”

Isuzu to Partner to Develop Algae Biodiesel

isuzu euglenaJapanese car maker Isuzu is partnering with a fellow Japanese company to develop a new kind of biodiesel from algae. This article from Bloomberg says Isuzu and Euglena Co. hope to establish the technology by 2018.

The companies want to develop a type of fuel that can be used on its own unlike existing kinds that need to be mixed with light oil, they said in a statement today.

“As long as we use light oil for diesel engines, emissions of carbon dioxide are inevitable,” Susumu Hosoi, president of Japanese truck maker Isuzu, said at a news conference. “It is important to diversify types of fuel” for resource-poor Japan, he said.

Euglena, a Japanese biotech venture, has been developing jet fuel from algae with airline operator ANA Holdings Inc., President Mitsuru Izumo said at the event.

Indonesia Coming Up Short on Big Biodiesel Goals

Indonesia flag1Indonesia looks to miss some pretty ambitious goals this year for its biodiesel program. Reuters reports that problems with logistics and infrastructure are what government officials cite as the reason for the miss.

The government has set a biodiesel consumption target in 2014 of 4 million kilolitres, of which 1.56 million kilolitres is for subsidised diesel for vehicles, with the rest to used by power plants and non-subsidised sectors such as mining and plantations.

But by end-May, only 447,000 kilolitres had been used in the subsidised diesel sector, Dadan Kusdiana, director of renewable energy and energy conservation at the mining ministry, told Reuters by text. He was unable to give data for other sectors.

Kusdiana said the figure for subsidised diesel was forecast to rise to 1.34 million kilolitres by the end of the year.

Analysts, however, have been sceptical the government could meet its targets due to issues in making biodiesel available throughout the island archipelago, particularly in more remote eastern provinces, and providing adequate supervision to ensure the new standards were being adopted.

The shortfall from the goals also comes as the country tried to spark more internal use, boosting the mandate for transportation fuels from 3 percent to 10 percent and doubling the power generation industry’s mandate to 20 percent. Another reason for the shortfall not mentioned in the article might be the trouble Indonesia is having exporting its biodiesel to Europe right now.

GRFA: UN Sustainable Goals Must Include Biofuels

This week the 12th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals began at the United Nations in New York City. In response to the meeting, the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) is encouraging participants to include specific targets for biofuels developments as part of UN’s sustainability goals. In addition, GRFA stressed to delegates that the use of sustainable biofuels as a replacement for crude-based grfa_logo1transportation fuels significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions while diving investments in agriculture.

“As participants continue to set new UN Development Goals for the next fifteen years they must keep in mind the positive affects that the global biofuels industry has on agriculture, the environment and the energy sector,” said Bliss Baker, spokesperson for the GRFA.

According to GRFA, the global ethanol industry alone this year will produce 90.38 billion litres of ethanol which will help the environment by reducing GHG emissions by 106.4 million tonnes. This year’s production record will reduce global GHG emissions by over 291,000 tonnes per day. This is equal to 21,279,808 cars being removed from the world’s roads in 2014 OR removing more than all of the vehicles registered in Malaysia off the road each year.

“Global biofuel production and use leads to a more sustainable environment because ethanol use is the largest single contributor to GHG reductions in transportation and the only commercially available alternative to crude oil,” added Baker.

The agriculture sector has also benefited from biofuels production over the years as developing countries adopt biofuel-friendly policies, said Baker. According to a recent publication of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO), “Increased agricultural productivity and output has ensured that the global supply of crops available forUN FAO Biofuels and the Sustainability Challenge non-biofuel uses has continued to grow over the long term.” Additionally, for every tonne of cereals used for ethanol production, on average one-third re-enters the food chain as animal feed. The UN FAO confirmed this in its report “Biofuels and the Sustainability Challenge,” stating that “the by-products of biofuel production can be useful sources of food”.

“In short, the global biofuels industry has increased the amount of food available for human consumption and feed available to farmers for livestock around the world,” said Baker.

The creation of sustainable green jobs going forward has become a priority for governments around the world. In 2012 the GRFA released a report that found that in 2010, global ethanol production supported nearly 1.4 million jobs in all sectors worldwide and contributed over $273 million to the global economy. A recent IRENA commissioned report confirmed that the global biofuels industry has grown, finding that in 2013, 1.45 million jobs were supported by the global liquid biofuels industry.

“It’s clear that because of the global biofuel industry’s ability to reduce our reliance on crude oil, reduce GHG emissions, increase agricultural productivity and create millions of jobs, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals post 2015 must encourage further growth of the global biofuels industry,” concluded Baker.