Ecoppia Unveils E4 Robot Cleaned Solar Park

Ecoppia has announced that the Ketura Sun solar park in Israel’s Negev desert is now the world’s first autonomously-cleaned solar energy production facility. The 8-hectare facility, producing 9 million kilowatt hours per year, is cleaned nightly by a fleet of almost 100 water-free, energy-independent Ecoppia E4 robots. The solar park is jointly owned by Siemens AG and Arava Power.

An impediment to solar energy production is soiling, or the dust and dirt that accumulates on solar panel surfaces. Soiling that reduce panel energy output by up to 35 percent. ECOPPIAKentura Sun is situated between the Gulf of Aqaba and the southern tip of the Dead Sea and suffers from sand storms and little rain. With cost and lack of water as barriers, the panels were only cleaned several times a year and could take up to five days.

“We conducted a thorough worldwide search for a cleaning solution that could deal with the challenging weather conditions in our solar parks,” said Jon Cohen, CEO at Arava Power. “Only Ecoppia’s solution showed actual significant uplift in production, while offering an extremely appealing business model. We are proud to be their partners.”

Following a successful pilot where Ecoppia’s solution effectively removed 99 percent of panel dust daily, E4 robots were deployed over the entire Ketura Sun field in less than three months. Today, nearly 100 centrally-controlled E4 robots clean the entire field every night, ensuring maximum production efficiency during sunlight hours.

Ecopiian says the E4 robots are cost effective efficient and energy-independent. They use a soft microfiber and air flow cleaning system to remove 99 percent of dust each day, applying zero load on the panel surface, keeping panels continually performing at optimal production. Utilizing a robust control unit and sensors that drive the robotic system along each solar panel row, E4 is fully remotely managed, monitored and controlled.

“We’re pleased to facilitate this important first step towards effectively growing solar park energy output,” said Eran Meller, CEO of Ecoppia. “With E4, Ketura Sun maximizes its energy generation, without the expense and negative ecological impact of water-based cleaning solutions.”

Yanir Aloush, VP operations at Arava Power, added, “Ecoppia has changed the way we run the Ketura Sun field. Less guesswork about when to clean, less downtime since there’s no need for on-site cleaning crews, less external personnel on the ground – we are very excited by the potential upgrade Ecoppia’s solution offers us.”

SolarEdge Selected for EV Fast-Charging Stations

Fastned has selected the SolarEdge solution, solar power technology developed by SolarEdge, for a nationwide network of 200 electric car fast-charging stations. The electric vehicle (EV) network will be strategically located throughout the Netherlands’ highways and will be partially 2013-11-30-145powered by 3 MW of distributed solar power. Fastned said they selected SolarEdge due to its lower installation, operation and maintenance costs when compared to other systems along with its increased energy yield.

SolarEdge said its module-level monitoring system provides Fastned with real-time performance data on each individual module and gives immediate alerts on any irregularities that may occur, pinpointed on a virtual site map. This offers increased system uptime by allowing Fastned to monitor all of its 200 fast-charging electric stations from one centralized location.

“Fastned is founded on a big vision with a simple solution and so is SolarEdge, which is what makes SolarEdge our ideal partner. SolarEdge took a new look at traditional PV systems and its simple solution of module-level optimization is revolutionizing the industry, just as Fastned plans to transform transportation,” stated Joost Hoffman, Fastned’s Operations Manager.

Installed by Solar Today, the projects consist of 10 kWp and 20 kWp PV stations that include 20 and 40 power optimizers respectively and one SolarEdge inverter. Solar Today installed P600 power optimizers, SolarEdge’s one power optimizer per two panel solution, that is specifically designed to decrease the costs of large projects. SolarEdge technology allowed Fastned to double the string length compared to a traditional inverter, therefore decreasing the amount of strings by 50 percent.

“A standard feature in all PV system categories, SolarEdge technology continues to prove that module-level electronics are a simple solution for improving the bottom line of projects,” said Lior Handelsman, VP Marketing & Product Strategy SolarEdge. “Being selected by Fastned, a company that understands how disruptive technologies can turn a vision into a reality, demonstrates the innovative power of SolarEdge’s technology. This project continues the positive trend of SolarEdge penetration into the strategic Dutch PV market.”

German Biodiesel Exports Set Record

GermanflagGerman biodiesel sales might be down, but the country’s exports of the green fuel set a record last year. About a week ago, I reported how Germany’s biodiesel sales were down last year, about 300,000 tonnes below the five-year average. But this article in Biodiesel Magazine says Germany exported 480.3 million gallons (just under 1.6 million metric tons) in 2013, a jump of 20 percent from 2012.

The Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen (UFOP) notes that, in the same period, biodiesel imports fell from 228.1 million gallons to 168.1 million gallons.

The UFOP states several reasons are responsible for this. The tariffs put on Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel are now showing their effect. Less than only 2.25 million gallons of biodiesel was imported from Indonesia. UFOP also says the export balance “confirmed the competitiveness of the German biodiesel industry and consequently its international marketing expertise.”

The UFOP states that the U.S., with 54 million gallons, is its most important partner outside the EU.

Siemens Invests in Offshore Wind Manufacturing in UK

Siemens to Build Major Offshore Wind Manufacturing Site in the UKSiemens will be investing £160 million (EUR190m) in wind turbine production and installation facilities in Yorkshire (UK). The facility will be spread across two sites including the Green Port Hull project construction, assembly and service facility and a new rotor blade manufacturing facility in nearby Paull, in East Riding. Siemens’ port partner Associated British Ports (ABP) is investing a further £150 million in the Green Port Hull development. The investment will provide a huge boost to the UK’s offshore wind industry and the Humber region.

“This is a massive vote of confidence in our long-term economic plan,” said Prime Minister David Cameron. This investment is going to create lots of new jobs and opportunities, meaning more financial security and peace of mind for families and a more resilient economy for our country.”

The Green Port Hull project has been in development for nearly four years and is the product of an effort between many national and local political, business and community parties and many people within Siemens in the UK, Denmark and Germany, and ABP. The investment is a landmark moment for the UK offshore wind industry. It is the first manufacturing plant of its kind for Siemens next generation blade technology (IntegralBlade) designed for Siemens SWT-6.0-154 6 megawatt (MW) wind turbine. Each rotor blade is 75 meters long and when rotating covers an area the size of two and a half football pitches.

“Our decision to construct a production facility for offshore wind turbines in England is part Siemens to Build Major Offshore Wind Manufacturing Site in the UKof our global strategy: we invest in markets with reliable conditions that can ensure that factories can work to capacity,” said Michael Suess, member of the managing board of Siemens AG and CEO of the Energy Sector. “The British energy policy creates a favourable framework for the expansion of offshore wind energy. In particular, it recognizes the potential of offshore wind energy within the overall portfolio of energy production.”

Suess continued, “The offshore wind market in Great Britain has high growth rates, with an even greater potential for the future. Wind power capacity has doubled here within two years, to roughly 10 gigawatts. By 2020, a capacity of 14 gigawatts is to be installed at sea alone to combine the country’s environmental objectives with secure power supply. Projects for just over 40 gigawatts are currently in the long-term planning.”

Green Port Hull is planned to be operational to meet Round 3 requirements in early 2016. The start of production at the blade factory is scheduled to be in the middle of 2016 with full production levels reached from mid 2017 onwards.

When Cows Fly: Tallow-to-Biodiesel to Fuel Aviation

leogroupA company operating in the U.K. has just completed its biggest shipment of tallow-to-biodiesel, and the green fuel is set to power aviation. This article from Bdaily Business News says Leo Group has shipped 10,700 tonnes of tallow recycled into about 3 million gallons of biodiesel in four ocean tankers.

The overseas shipments come as the company marks another environmental milestone; the tallow and poultry oils produced at both of these rendering plants are now certified under the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) scheme.

The ISCC seal is used by industry to distinguish between truly sustainable and unsustainable biomass fuels.

Leo Group managing director Danny Sawrij said: “We are delighted that customers around the world are drawing upon our expertise to drive down the world’s carbon footprint.

“Waste is not in the Leo Group’s vocabulary or culture – everything these days has a use and 100% of all by-product materials on our sites are now recycled.”

Biofuels use in Europe is expected to increase over the next few years, especially those fuels produced from non-food sources.

Confidence Boost for Europe’s Renewable Energy

In a last minute addition to the European Council’s conclusions on 2030 energy targets, leaders stated the need for a “supportive EU framework for advancing renewable energies.” While an agreement has yet to be reached, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a press conference that the Council would have a deal on the climate and energy framework by “no later than” October 2014.

European Council logo“This extra time could be a golden opportunity – for pro-renewables countries like Germany, Denmark and Portugal to rally round and start fighting for greater ambition for renewables and the energy security they bring,” said Thomas Becker, chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “The conclusions show that Heads of State are wising up to the energy challenges that Europe is facing. I think the situation in the Ukraine is proving a sobering experience for policymakers over the frailty of Europe’s energy security.“ He added, “We must act and we must do it now.”

Over 160 companies and organizations have singed a statement calling for a stronger commitment from policymakers to Europe’s 2030 Climate and energy objectives. One ask: a legally binding target for renewable energy of 30 percent. If this target were met, it would reduce gas imports by nearly three times more than the 27 percent target put forward by the European Commission in January 2014, create 568,000 more jobs, save EUR260 billion extra in fossil fuel imports.

It remains unlikely that a 2030 deal will be in place before a United Nations meeting convenes in September 204, when global leaders are expected to set out plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The European Council is set to meet again for talks on June 26-27, 2014.

Research Looks Into Water-Free Biodiesel Brewing

waste-vegetable-oil-for-biodieselEfforts to make biodiesel production even more sustainable might get a boost from research into a water-free method of making the green fuel. This story from Biofuels Journal says researchers at the University of Porto in Portugal are looking at a way to eliminate the water normally used water to remove impurities to meet stringent quality standards.

Instead of water, researchers used catalysts to pre-treat and target impurities such as calcium ‘soaps’ in the biodiesel.

The impurities were then removed by absorption into resins or passing through ceramic membranes.

The researchers were able to produce good quality biodiesel from both virgin vegetable oil and, importantly, waste oils used for frying.

The new process could provide significant economic and environmental benefits compared to other more energy intensive water-based production methods.

The researchers believe that finding more water-free or less-water-consuming methods of making biofuels becomes more and more important as more of the world turns to the alternative fuels.

German Biodiesel Sales Have Big Drop

Sales of German biodiesel dropped dramatically last year. Germany’s Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen (UFOP), an association that advocates for oil and protein crops in that country, says 300,000 fewer tonnes of biodiesel were produced in 2013, down from the previous five-year average of 2.5 million tonnes to just 2.2 million tonnes.
ufop318
UFOP has determined that the actual decline in vegetable methyl esters turns out to be much more dramatic because the data of the BAFA also includes the offset amount of hydrated vegetable oil (HVO) and biodiesel from waste oils. Assuming HVO sales as in the previous year (around 420,000 tonnes) and an estimated sale of up to 200,000 tonnes of biodiesel from waste oil, the actual sale of conventional biodiesel is only about 1.6 million tonnes.

The consumption statistics spell out the significance of pure fuel marketing in the years 2007 to 2008 and the total energy quota of 5.25 percent introduced in 2009 as well as its increase to 6.25 for the period 2010 to 2014. However, with the resolution for the Biofuel Quota Act having been passed as a clear indication of political will, the UFOP has criticised that volume balancing for compensation of the incremental reduction in the tax concession – biodiesel has been subject to full taxation since 2013 – will creep in due to the double apportionment of biofuels from waste oils and as a result of HVO imports.

UNICA Pleased With CARB Proposal

UNICAThe Brazilian sugarcane ethanol industry is pleased with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) proposal last week to revise Indirect Land Use Change (iLUC) numbers for biofuels.

Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association UNICA applauded CARB for “once again declaring that sugarcane ethanol is one of the most environmentally friendly biofuels supplying today’s market.”

UNICA North America Representative Leticia Phillips notes that the CARB staff proposal to revise ILUC estimates under the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard shows the Brazilian sugarcane biofuel generates about half the indirect emissions that CARB originally suggested during its rulemaking process in 2009. “If implemented, these revised ILUC estimates will confirm what numerous other studies have shown: sugarcane ethanol is one of the most environmentally friendly biofuels supplying today’s market,” she said in a statement.

Phillips adds that UNICA looks forward to providing detailed comments to this CARB proposal as they have done in the past.

Aruba to Get Methes Energies Biodiesel Maker

denami600A biodiesel producer on the tropical island of Aruba is going to the Great White North to get its biodiesel maker. Ontario-based Methes Energies International Ltd. is building a Denami 600 for Antilla Energy VBA (formally known as BioFuel Aruba) to brew biodiesel from local waste cooking oil.

Nicholas Ng, President of Methes Energies, said, “We’re very excited about this project as it fits well with our business model. I believe that this is the first of many more manufacturing orders we will receive this year. We have been working with several clients that are, just like Antilla, at a point where they now need to order their Denami. It is a sometime a long process but at the end it is very rewarding for our clients and our company.”

Gregory Fung-A-Fat, Managing Director of Antilla Energy VBA, added, “Our due diligence exercise took a bit longer than we first anticipated, but we are finally there and ready to go. We now look forward to receiving delivery of our first Denami with commissioning happening in the fourth quarter of this year. The plan is to grow our facility to about 6 million gallons per year so we are setting up in a way that will make it easy and cost effective to add 4 more Denami’s 600′s as the market conditions allow. We’re glad to be doing our part to help Aruba reach its Green Aruba 2020 targets.”

Antilla Energy VBA is focused on on producing biodiesel from non-food crop biodiesel feedstocks.

Analysis: Export Market a Bright Spot for US Ethanol

Ethanol producers might be fretting about the government’s proposal to lower the amount of the green fuel to be mixed into the Nation’s fuel supply. But this analysis from the University of Illinois points out that those Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) numbers don’t matter when it comes to ethanol going over the border and to foreign shores, a bright spot for the American industry.

An important point to note is that ethanol or other biofuels produced in the US and exported for consumption overseas do not count toward the blenders’ RFS obligations. The Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) associated with exported biofuels are retired and no longer eligible for use towards RFS compliance. Thus, exports are not substituted for domestic consumption but rather represent additional demand. Ultimately, exports provide a path around, rather than through, the ethanol blend wall by allowing the domestic industry to produce greater volumes of ethanol than the blend wall limitation implies for domestic use.
ethanolexports
The analysis goes on to look at markets for American ethanol in Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Mexico and other foreign consumers and how it could take up the amount proposed to be lowered in the RFS.

Neste’s Aviation Biofuel Wins Sustainability Award

nesteairplane1Dutch refiner Neste Oil has won an award for its sustainable aviation biofuel. This company news release says the Sustainable Bio Award comes for its work with Neste’s Dutch partners on their joint initiative, Bioport for jet fuels in the Netherlands.

Launched in November 2013, the initiative is designed to promote the deployment of sustainably produced biofuels in the aviation sector. In addition to Neste Oil, the initiative has been signed by KLM, SkyNRG, Schiphol Airport, the Port of Rotterdam, the State Secretary of Infrastructure and the Environment, and the Minister of Economic Affairs. Neste Oil’s role in the initiative is to explore the opportunities for producing renewable aviation fuel on a continuous basis and scaling up production.

The Sustainable Bio Award competition recognizes innovations that promote the development of sustainably produced biofuels and bio-products. Joint initiative received the top award in the Collaboration of the Year category.

Neste’s NEXBTL renewable aviation fuel, made from vegetable oil and waste oil feedstocks, enables airlines to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and has been tested successfully on commercial flights.

East Africa’s 1st Utility Solar Project Makes Progress

East Africa’s first utility-scale solar field is making progress. When complete, it is estimated to produce 8 percent of the country’s power generation capacity. The project is going forward due to Dutch solar developer Gigawatt Global Coöperatief having successfully ASYVclosed on $23.7 million in financing for a 8.5 megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant from an international consortium of equity investors and debt providers including Norwegian development finance institution Norfund, Norwegian-headquartered Scatec Solar, Dutch development bank FMO and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF).

The photovoltaic (PV) plant will be located 60 km from the capital of Kigali on land belonging to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) for youth orphaned during and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The electricity will be fed into the national grid under a 25 year power purchase agreement with the Rwanda Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA). Construction has already started and commercial operation of the solar field is expected by summer of 2014.

“It takes a global village to raise a solar revolution,” said American-Israeli entrepreneur and human rights activist Yosef Abramowitz, President of Gigawatt Global and CEO of Energiya Global Capital, Gigawatt’s Israeli affiliate that provided seed money and strategic guidance for the project.

“There are 550 million people in Africa without electricity. Economic growth in developing markets depends on access to affordable, green power. Environmentally-friendly solar energy is far less expensive than diesel-generated power. This first-ever utility-scale solar field in Rwanda – and all of East Africa – represents the future of energy for developing countries and for island nations. It is a game-changer for humanity and the environment,” added Abramowitz.

The Rwanda Minister of State in Charge of Energy and Water, Eng. Emma Francoise Isumbingabo said, “Generation and provision of electricity to all Rwandans is important for the Government of Rwanda. This initiative to produce 8.5 megawatts is a good addition towards closing the current energy gap.”

With limited power generation capacity, the Government of Rwanda has introduced an aggressive plan to boost the nation’s generation capacity. The objective is for 50 percent of the population to have access to electricity by 2017.

Reflecting its dedication to helping heal the world, Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village fostered the development of a solar field, located on Village property, that will generate enough electricity to contribute to a roughly 8 percent increase in the country’s electricity supply. ASYV is leasing land to house the solar facility, the fees from which will help pay for a portion of the Village’s charitable expenses.

Renewable Energy Powers Asian Development Bank

Renewable Energy is now powering the Asian Development Bank (ABD). It’s Manila headquarters is now getting 100 percent of its energy from renewable energy including geothermal and solar power. ABD has signed an agreement with AdventEnergy, Inc. Geothermal energy is being delivered from plants in Tiwi in Albay province and Makiling-Banahaw in Laguna province, both of which are on the main Philippine island of Luzon.

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 11.35.18 AM“As an institution we are strongly committed to expanding the use of renewable energy across Asia and the Pacific, so it is only fitting that we walk the talk in our own headquarters,” said ADB Vice President Bruce Davis at a ceremony in ADB headquarters. “This agreement will allow us to cut our annual corporate carbon footprint by nearly 50%, with an emission reduction of more than 9,500 tons of CO2 equivalent.”

The supply contract with AdventEnergy will see ADB purchase an average of 1.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a month. This will be supplemented by about 50,000 kWh generated monthly from ADB’s rooftop solar panels. These two sources will meet the entire energy requirements of the headquarters building, where more than 2,600 staff and consultants work each day.

With the switch to renewables, ADB will no longer purchase electricity directly from the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), although it will continue to use the company’s distribution network. The move follows ADB’s decision to take advantage of electricity reforms in the Philippines which allow large users to choose their power supplier.

A ceremony to mark the switchover to full renewable power was the centerpiece of ADB’s second “No Impact Week,” during which staff are encouraged to make work and personal lifestyle changes to reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the environment.

Aging Wind Farms Should Not Be Thrown to the Wind

As the wind energy industry continues to grow, there has been debate about whether wind turbines have a more limited shelf-life than other energy technologies, such as solar panels. With the United Kingdom’s (UK) target of generating 15 percent of the nation’s energy from renewable resources such as wind farms by 2020, aging wind turbines could be a concern. According to researchers at the wind farm in the UKImperial College Business School, today there are 4,246 wind turbines across 531 wind farms generating 7.5 percent of the country’s electricity.

According to a new study from Imperial researchers, who carried out a comprehensive nationwide analysis of the UK fleet of wind turbines, using local wind speed data from NASA, the turbines will last their full life of about 25 years before they need to be upgraded. A previous study used a statistical model to estimate that electricity output from wind turbines declines by a third after only ten years of operation.

In response to this study, some opponents of wind power have argued that aging turbine technology could need replacing en mass after as little as 10 years. This could make wind energy an unattractive option in economic terms.

However, the Imperial research team found that the UK’s earliest turbines, built in the 1990s, are still producing three-quarters of their original output after 19 years of operation, nearly twice the amount previously claimed, and will operate effectively up to 25 years. This is comparable to the performance of gas turbines used in power stations.

The study also found that more recent turbines are performing even better than the earliest models, suggesting they could have a longer lifespan. The team says this makes a strong business case for further investment in the wind farm industry. Continue reading