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Major step in Tidal generation
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The first full-scale tidal generator in Wales has been unveiled in an attempt to reduce the UK's carbon emissions.

The device, an underwater turbine mounted on a free-standing base, will be installed in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire.

Its backers say it will be among the world's first demonstration devices connected to the grid to generate green, renewable and predictable tidal power.

Energy generated by the 400kW demonstration device, which will be installed within weeks, will be used to power 100 nearby homes.

After a 12-month testing period, up to nine tidal devices will be installed off St Davids Head in Pembrokeshire to form a 10 megawatt array.

The DeltaStream device, developed by Tidal Energy (TEL) weighs 150 tonnes, and has a 52ft by 66ft (16 metre by 20 metre) frame.

Each turbine has a 49ft (15 metre) diameter rotor which is connected to a generator to produce electricity both the ebb and flood tides.

It does not require expensive drilling into the seabed, the company claims, and has features to minimise impacts on the environment.

'The imminent launch of DeltaStream, and the supply chain that now exists as a consequence of its development, marks the birth of the tidal industry in Wales,' said Tidal Energy's managing director Martin Murphy.

'We remain committed to leading the expansion of the industry and to the creation of green jobs by building on the wealth of expertise present in the UK and the country's plentiful resources.'

Strong tides and crashing waves can produce huge amounts of energy – and the UK, with its long coastlines, is in an ideal position to harness this power.

Tidal Energy received £8 million funding for the project from the European Regional Development Fund, and match-funded by majority shareholder Welsh renewables company Eco2, which will join forces with TEL to install the further devices.

Renewable Energy Association chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: 'Many of our ocean energy members are currently racing to deploy the first wave or tidal farm, with several of these types of devices instead of just one.

'When that happens the sector will move into mass production, costs will fall dramatically, and wave and tidal will be well on their way to becoming major players in the UK energy system.'

Overall, the marine energy industry has been forecast to be worth £6.1 billion ($10.3 billion) to the UK economy by 2035, creating nearly 20,000 jobs. 

UK scientific breakthrough
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Solar energy cells that are sprayed like paint could cut the cost of solar electricity, and accelerate the growth of renewable energy

Perovskite solar cells, considered one of the major scientific breakthroughs of recent years, could be made available in a spray can after the product was developed by scientists at the University of Sheffield.

This means that solar cells could be applied to almost anything; an electric car could generate energy from its coat of perovskite solar paint.

The term perovskite refers to a particular mineral crystal structure; a cross between an organic compound and metal.

These solar cells, their generation capability first demonstrated in 2012, are both cheaper and better for the environment than the silicon based alternative that dominates the industry.

The project’s lead researcher Professor David Lidzey said: “There is a lot of excitement around perovskite based photovoltaics.

“Remarkably, this class of material offers the potential to combine the high performance of mature solar cell technologies with the low embedded energy costs of production of organic photovoltaics.”

At 19 per cent efficiency, perovskite cells are almost twice as efficient as organic solar cells, but are 6 per cent less than conventional silicon cells.

“Using a perovskite absorber instead of an organic absorber gives a significant boost in terms of efficiency,” said Lidzey.

Alan South, Chief Innovation Officer at SolarCentury, one of the UK’s largest solar energy companies, said “Developing a viable solution in this area is an important part of the roadmap for yet lower costs and increased applicability. We're delighted to see this kind of research taking place in the UK.

 “However, part of what makes today’s silicon-based solar so successful is its bankability resulting from decades of service experience and a long-lasting warranty.

"So should you consider waiting for spray-on solar before you adopt the technology? We would say no. It’s unknown how long it will take for this kind of innovation to become mainstream and electricity price rises are real right now.”

Cheaper PV panels
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Researchers have developed a new manufacturing method which could bring down the cost of making a type of solar cell.
A team at Liverpool University has found a way of replacing the toxic element in the process with a material found in bath salts.
The scientists say that this could have a "massive, unexpected cost benefit".
The research has been published in the Journal Nature and unveiled at the ESOF conference in Copenhagen.
Dr Jon Major explains how the simple new technique could dramatically reduce the cost of solar energy
Dr Jon Major, who led the research said that his team's work might be the development that brings the cost down to the level of fossil fuel,".
More than 90% of the solar cells are made from silicon. Around 7% are made from a material called cadmium telluride. The cadmium telluride cells are thinner than silicon and these are popular because they are also lighter and cheaper.

They have the drawback that a toxic chemical, cadmium chloride, is needed to manufacture them. Cadmium chloride is also expensive.
A significant proportion of the manufacturing cost of cadmium telluride cells is to protect the workforce from toxins and to dispose of contaminated waste products safely, according to the research team.
Dr Major discovered that a cheaper, non-toxic alternative, magnesium chloride, could be used instead of the toxic compound and work just as well.
  Solar cells being made. No need for a protective mask
Magnesium chloride is completely safe. It is used to make tofu and is found in bath salts. It also extracted from sea water and so is a small fraction of the price of cadmium chloride.
Dr Major's boss, Prof Ken Durose, who is the director of the Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy at Liverpool University, believes that his colleague's discovery has the potential to transform the economics of solar energy.
"One of the big challenges with solar energy is to make it cheap enough to compete with conventional power generation".
"Solar will progressively get cheaper until it will become more and more feasible for solar power to be produced from solar electrons"
The cost of materials and dealing with toxins is a very small fraction of production costs.
Comparing the relative costs of different energy technologies is extremely difficult because they are so different and the results are contentious.
But when pressed, Prof Durose made his best guess to assess the potential impact of the new technique, stressing that his figures were rough and ready and contained assumptions that could and probably would be challenged.
Cost debate
That said, he estimated that the cost of electricity produced from current cadmium telluride technology is very approximately 10 pence per unit, significantly higher than the 8.25 pence per unit for electricity produced from gas.
But he thought that the benefits of cheaper materials and the cost saving from not having to deal with toxic materials could bring the cost of cadmium telluride cells to 8.2 pence per unit - lower than gas.
However, Dr Nigel Mason of PV Consulting believes that the researchers are being very optimistic in their assessment of the impact their development will have on the price of solar energy.
"The development is great for the environmental management and safety of the production process but the cost of cadmium chloride material and dealing with its safe disposal is a relatively small fraction of production cost,"

A key factor is that tellurium is one of the rarest elements on Earth so there would not be enough of the chemical to make enough solar cells if the technology took off, according to Dr Mason.
But Dr Major believes that solar energy could eventually meet the world's energy needs.
"There is enough sunlight that falls on the Earth every hour to generate enough electricity for the planet for a year," he said.
"The way solar is progressing it will just be a matter of time before it becomes competitive with fossil fuels and eventually replace them."
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