The US military is pushing energy innovation as it tries to free itself from an aging electrical grid observed FierceEnergy. The U.S. Department of Defense spends $4 billion on energy every year and accounts for over 80% of energy consumption in the U.S. federal government.  This has led the military to shift towards energy independence and commit to investing in next-generation alternative technologies. In the process it is becoming an ideal laboratory for new renewable energy technologies, especially for products that are beyond the research stage but lack widespread implementation. It takes the risk and reaps the benefits. The Department is investing in three broad areas: increasing efficiency of energy distribution and use; reducing demand; and promoting on-site generation. Examples include microgrids, energy storage projects, retrofitting buildings, installing intelligent building management systems, and building out on-site electrical generation such as waste-to-energy, landfill gas and solar plants. For each technology the Department is assessing its performance, as well as what its current and future potential cost is, and why. In a related post, Daily Tech told us the U.S. Navy Is Using Rotating Detonation Engines for Propulsion, Electricity.

The International Energy Agency is supporting hydroelectric power for emerging economies reported UPI Energy Resources. Given the right investment climate, the Agency believes hydroelectric production could double worldwide by 2050. Additions in hydropower capacity since 2005 have generated more electricity than all other sources of renewable energy combined. Moreover, hydropower plants have the potential side benefits of providing flood control and fresh water.

In Japan a cable tv company is going to sell electricity reported The Hollywood Reporter. Japanese cable TV giant J:COM, also known as Jupiter Telecommunications, will add power to its cable TV, phone and broadband bundled services to apartment blocks by the end of this year. J.Com has 50% of the Japanese cable TV market and is planning to provide electricity to up to 10,000 customers over the next year, at 7% to 10% below the rates of the electric utilities. The electricity will be bought by J:COM from an affiliate company. Some of the electricity is expected to come from solar power and private businesses which sell excess power they generate.

Renewable electricity exports could drive Iceland’s economic growth we learned from Reuters. Consultants McKinsey & Co. say Iceland should explore exporting renewable power to Europe via an under sea cable as part of a strategy for broad-based growth to recover from its ruinous banking crash. An interconnector to Europe (such as the UK) would enable Iceland to reap large revenues from its abundant supplies of hydropower and geothermal energy. Currently Iceland’s energy return from low-cost energy at just 1% of GDP. With an interconnector, this could jump to 5%, approaching the 6% resource rent that Norway extracts from its oil fields. McKinsey estimated that Iceland could export electricity to Britain at an all-in price in 2020 that was some 60 euros per MWh cheaper than offshore wind power.

The New York Times noted that Europe’s debt crisis is causing countries to cut back on their financial support for renewable energy projects. “As government subsidies have been cut, utilities and independent energy producers have mothballed projects and refocused on countries that still offer guaranteed — though reduced — returns for clean energy investment. Others are looking to new international markets for growth to offset the downturn in Europe.” These other markets include Brazil and South Africa. The drop in renewable energy investment comes despite legally binding commitments by the European Union to produce 20% of its energy from renewable sources by the end of the decade. The focus of remaining investment is in offshore wind farms that still qualify for government support.

hydrogenfuelnews informed us that Egypt is investing heavily in wind farms. According to a new report from Enerdata, Egypt is working to construct 750 MW worth of wind energy projects which could be in place by 2014.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph argued Wind energy claims are just a lot of hot air. “There is lots of evidence that wind energy is a disaster in almost every conceivable respect: it massacres protected bats and rare birds – even to the point of threatening some species (like the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle) with extinction; it trashes property values; it spoils the countryside; it inflates energy prices; it drives the vulnerable into fuel poverty; it is holding back the economic recovery; it frightens off tourists; it produces low frequency noise – and this, in particular, is a major public health scandal just waiting to blow – which can make those living within a mile of a turbine seriously ill. Oh – and it doesn’t even reduce carbon emissions or create energy security because wind power, being by nature intermittent and unreliable, requires near 100 per cent back-up from conventional, fossil-fuel power ticking away on ‘spinning reserve’.”

CleanBiz Asia told us that Indonesia is going to lead a 5 GW Southeast Asia solar boom. Total cumulative photovoltaic (PV) solar installations in Southeast Asia are forecast to reach almost 5-GW by 2016, according to the latest report from IMS Research and Indonesia is predicted to become the fastest-growing market in the region, overtaking Thailand as it installs close to 1-GW of new capacity. The report analyses the PV markets in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Philippines. “Given its substantial and quickly growing need for electricity, the small amount of the population that currently have access to electricity, and its reliance on diesel generators on its thousands of islands, PV is an highly attractive solution for providing distributed electricity sources in Indonesia,” said IMS Research.

The same source revealed floating PV farms are being planned for Japan’s countryside. Up to 10 floating solar PV plants are to be built in central Japan with an eventual 20 MW electricity output. The first two floating solar facilities are in a nature reserve in Saitama and a swamp in Osaka. They should be online by next year generating 1 MW and 2 MW respectively.

SolarServer let us know that Germany and Algeria are planning North Africa’s first concentrating solar power (CSP) plant to generate electricity. This, the first such plant in North Africa, will be built in Boughezoul, Algeria. The hybrid plant will incorporate both CSP and natural gas generation, including 7 MW of solar power, and will be able to function on solar power alone. The project will use a high-temperature receiver which can operate at temperatures up to 700 degrees Centigrade.

Questions about Desertec‘s future arose this week. Der Spiegel posted Desertec’s Promise of Solar Power for Europe Fades while The Local Germany added German cash dries up for desert solar project. Desertec is a European project which hopes to make use of solar energy from Northern Africa and the Middle East in the decades to come. The purpose is to supply around 15% of Europe’s electricity by 2050 from this source as well as provide renewable electricity to the people in those desert countries. However the European economic slowdown has taken its toll on Desertec members and two large German companies, Siemens and Bosch, have recently pulled out of the project. In Der Spiegel‘s words: “As recently as three years ago, many thought that it was only a matter of time before solar thermal plants in North Africa supplied a significant portion of Europe’s energy needs. But Desertec has hit a road block. Industrial backers are jumping ship, political will is tepid and a key pilot project has suddenly stalled.” Meanwhile, to make matters worse, Green Prophet announced that Spain didn’t bother to show up at a Desertec meeting last week to sign an agreement for a Moroccan solar project. See Spain Ditches Morocco’s Desertec Solar Project Meeting. But Desertec boss Paul van Son denies his solar plan is in trouble says The Guardian in Desert solar power chief denies crisis.



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