The African nation of Kenya has awarded a contract for the construction of a geothermal power plant (Olkaria V) which will have 140 megawatt (MW) capacity. With the completion of Olkaria V, Kenya will have 290 MW of geothermal capacity or approximately 10% of the nation’s total electric generation capacity.

Scientists from around the world will study the possibility of producing geothermal energy from magma. The project in Iceland, if successful, could produce 5 to 10 times more energy than from a conventional geothermal well. The project is being coordinated by Iceland’s Geothermal Research Group and the British Geological Survey, with the participation of 38 institutes and companies from 11 countries including the United States, Canada and Russia. The project, called Krafla Magma Testbed, will involve drilling a hole 2.1 kilometers deep directly into a magma chamber below the Krafla volcano in north Iceland. The first phase of the project is planned to start by 2020.

Desperately seeking alternative electricity sources, Japan has started preparing to carry out a second offshore production test to extract methane gas from methyl gas hydrates. The test is expected to continue for month or so. In March 2013, two years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country carried out the first methane hydrate offshore production test in the Japan Eastern Nankai Trough, successfully extracting 20,000 cubic meters (706,300 cubic feet) per day of natural gas. Also known as ‘fire ice’ or ‘flammable ice’, methane hydrate is a cage-like structure of crystallized ice deep in the ocean bed, inside of which are trapped molecules of methane, the chief constituent of natural gas. If methane hydrate is either warmed or depressurized, it reverts back to water and natural gas. Japan hopes that it can start commercial production of natural gas from methane hydrates by 2023. With its nuclear plants shut down, the country is dependent on imported coal, crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to generate its electricity needs. Japan’s imported energy is costing the country in excess of US$40 billion per year.

In a related post, Asian Correspondent looks at Japan’s nuclear dilemma: The search for energy security post-Fukushima.

Germany has created a project to create Europe’s largest single-site battery energy storage system. The project will be constructed in Jardelund, in the state of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany at the Danish border. The 48MW/50MWh system will provide capacity reserve and balancing services for wind farms, mainly in Germany and surrounding countries. Construction will start at the end of this year.

The US city of Portland, Oregon has committed to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Portland is one of the largest of 25 US cities that have made this commitment. The city intends to meet all of its electricity needs with renewables within the next 18 years. After that it will transition from existing fossil fuel sources for heating and transportation over to renewables by the middle of the century.

South Korean automaker Kia announced it will launch its first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by 2020. Its sister company, Hyundai, says ti will have a fuel cell vehicle ready foe  the road for next year. BMW, Honda, and General Motors have already indicated they expect to have a hydrogen vehicle on the road by 2020.

Britain announced it has awarded millions of pounds to help boost manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries, including a project to build the country’s second electric battery plant and another to make the technology more powerful.




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