Peak Energy told us that a geothermal plant is going to be built in Malaysia. The country’s first  geothermal power generation plant will begin operating in Tawau in three years. The 30 MW plant will be operated by Sabah-based Tawau Green Energy (TGE) with the electricity being channelled to the Sabah Electricity power grid. TGE would tap geothermal energy by drilling 12 wells to a depth of between 1.8 km and 2 km.

The first natural gas tractor is going into production posted the Green Car Congress.  The new Steyr Profi 4135 Natural Power is equipped with a turbocharged mono-fuel compressed natural gas engine. The engine is a 3.0 liter, four-cylinder unit, producing 100 kW/136 hp. Natural gas storage is handled in nine fuel tanks, with a capacity of 300 liters in total. The tractor can be powered using refined biogas. Steyr is part of CNH Global N.V., a majority-owned subsidiary of Fiat Industrial S.p.A.

Bloggers explored the car fuels of the future. m&c looks at ethanol, natural gas,  hyrdogen, and Carbazol. FleetNews explores electric vehicles, diesel, hydrogen fuel cells, and fossil fuel hybrids.

biofuels international said that Algae.Tec is building the first algae biofuel plant in Sri Lanka.  Algae Tec is dedicated to the production of renewable oils from algae and this will be its first Asian operation.  It is being constructed for cement and building company Holcim Lanka which will convert its waste carbon dioxide into algae. The algae will then be used to produce biofuel. The plant will take up one-tenth the land footprint of pond growth options. The technology is designed for carbon emitting companies and industries seeking carbon dioxide reduction technologies.

Global Energy Watch wrote that Stockport, England is getting a renewable biogas plant.  The biogas will go into the national grid with the capability of heating 1400 homes in northwest England.  The facility will be built on a former landfill site and will convert food waste from local hotels, restaurants and British Gas offices into renewable gas.

Fuel made from wood could become a competitive commercial alternative to ethanol made from corn by 2020 according to a study by Canada’s University of British Columbia.  Renewable Energy Magazine reported that wood-based biofuel (called cellulosic ethanol) is considered more sustainable than corn but is not currently produced in large commercial quantities in North America because the costs are too great. The UBC study, published in the most recent issue of the journal Biofuels Bioproducts & Biorefining, identifies opportunities for reducing these costs. Costs for wood-based ethanol fuel production could be lowered by reducing the capital costs of facilities and equipment, reducing enzyme costs and generating revenue from co-products like electricity. Further, as industrial volumes are produced and demand grows, technological learning and economies-of-scale will help reduce the cost.

Economists at Oregon State University question the cost-effectiveness of biofuels and say they would barely reduce fossil fuel use and would likely increase greenhouse gas emissions. EurekaAlert provided us with a summary of the study called Biofuel Economics in a Setting of Multiple Objectives and Unintended Consequences. You can read the study here. The researchers focused on the currently used biofuels worldwide: corn ethanol, soybean biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass grown in the United States, canola biodiesel produced in Europe, and sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil and exported to the United States or Europe. The authors say “Our results suggest that existing biofuel policies have been very costly, produce negligible reductions in fossil fuel use and increase, rather than decrease, greenhouse gas emissions.”  Side effects are a major source of these greenhouse gas emissions including the fact that biofuels are produced and transported using fossil fuels.

China outlined its nuclear plans we were told by CleanBiz Asia.  Chinese officials told the 21st Century Low-Carbon Chinese Development Summit in Beijing this week that the country will increase its electricity generating capacity by up to 2 terrawatts in the next 10 to 20 years – of which as much as 300 GW will come from nuclear power.  China is likely to resume building nuclear plants in March 2012. To reach its nuclear energy goals for the next two decades China needs to bring 26 GW of new capacity on-line each year.

The west African country of Cape Verde announced that it wants 50% of its energy from wind by 2020 posted REVE.  Off shore wind farms planned for 2012 will raise this figure to 25%. The country wants to reduce its reliance on imported oil.

REVE also notified us that by 2020 wind turbines could be 20 MW. Feasibility studies within the wind industry believe that by the end of this decade we could be looking at giant wind turbines, with rotors having a 200 meter diameter and a capacity of 20 MW. However, to achieve these magnitudes significant technological advances will have to be made and the design will have to change. Additionally, they will have to be equipped with sensors that will indicate in real-time how they must be oriented to best take advantage of the wind and to check their tension.

The International Energy Agency thinks that solar could supply one-half of our energy by 2060 according to Climate Spectator.  The IEA’s Solar Energy Perspectives, released last week, looks at a scenario where solar energy could become the backbone of a largely renewable energy system worldwide. Regions with strong solar radiation (such as north Africa, the Middle East and Australia), could become net exporters of solar energy to colder climates such as Europe. Globally, the IEA scenario has solar thermal accounting for 28% of total electricity generation by 2060, solar PV accounting for 20% of generation and solar fuels adding a further 2% of generation. Of the other technologies, wind makes up 28%  of generation, hydropower provides 10%, and baseload – a mixture of geothermal, nuclear and biomass  – provides 11% of generation. Natural gas is seen as a balancing fuel and accounts for just 1% of total generation.

Thailand started its first concentrated solar plant said REVE. The plant is located in the province of Kanchanaburi Huaykrachao and has a power capacity of 5 MW. It is the first in the world that operates on the basis of the direct evaporation of water / steam. Thailand has plans to build another 14 solar plants in this same province.

Investor’s Business Daily let us know that 120,000 military housing units at bases across the US are going to be covered in solar panels. The billion dollar project will generate 300 MW of electricity. Called SolarStrong, the five-year plan is described as potentially the largest residential solar project in U.S. history. The plan is for the solar installer, SolarCity, to enter into partnerships with private military housing developers who would own and operate the rooftop solar installations, providing electricity at a lower-than-utility-power cost to military families who typically rent their homes.

Gigacom asks the question: How practical is a solar-powered car? The author does the math for us to determine how realistic is the notion of a commercial vehicle powered only by the Sun. I will leave it to you to determine if he got his math and physics right.

The  Australian reports that the country’s plan to install rooftop solar panels and hot-water systems will have a cumulative cost to consumers of $4.7 billion by mid-2020, adding to existing pressure on household power bills. The new carbon tax, to take effect in mid-2012, is likely to hit electricity prices hardest in Queensland and New South Wales, where power prices are set to rise by 42% over the next three years.By mid-2011 some 400,000 households had PV solar systems installed. This number could reach more than 1.5 million by 2020.



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2 Comments on The Energy Blog World: The Week in Review

  1. Elroy Jetson says:

    On the alternative fuel front for motor vehicles, Opel has already sold 70,000 CNG powered units in Europe and is touting it’s newest model as having the best range in class: Interesting to note that the CNG variant of the Zafira even addresses the EV bugbear of range anxiety by including a small gasoline tank as a reserve supply. CNG and propane may be future fuels, but they are being abandoned in Canada by Shell due to lack of public interest and profitability. That will likely change somewhere down the road, but for the present anyone driving on CNG in Ontario will justifiably suffer from real range anxiety: Enbridge advises that Ontarians with CNG vehicles can buy a home fueling system from them. Could this be a means to avoid paying road taxes normally collected by gasoline stations?