Category Archives: wind

Proposal to make Highway’s more Green!!


Sometimes it takes a student to teach the sensei. A design competition for students has produced various ways to capture wind power by retrofitting highways and roadways with wind turbines. The simple [and brilliant] design captures the normally lost kinetic energy of vehicular traffic as it cruises along the PCH or GSP going 55-85mph.


I’m sure it will be a few years before we see such infrastructure actually implemented – but its about time designers start to think outside the box when it comes to creating ‘green’ technologies. We need to generate more great ideas like this: where energy is created through a simple and aesthetically pleasing device that that can be fitted within existing structures – like these jersey barrier turbines [shown below], which we covered here and here on MNP.

[original article appeared on architecture.mnp - and was written by Arco]

::via inhabitat::

Canary Island to be powered solely by renewables

The Spanish government has announced that El Hierro, one of the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, “will be the first island in the world totally supplied by renewable energy.”  The island of 10,500 residents will rely on a combination of hydroelectric and wind power.

“Using this system, we can transform a intermittent energy source into a controlled and constant supply of electricity,” the ministry said of the 54.3 million euro (65 million dollar) scheme which is designed to cut the island’s annual carbon dioxide emissions by 18,700 tonnes.

The island’s wind farm will generate electricity for the pumping station that will pump water to the two reservoirs that feed the hydroelectric stations, which will provide the bulk of El Hierro’s power.  Excess wind energy will be used to power two desalination plants.  An existing diesel-powered plant on the island will be maintained for emergencies if water and wind supplies run short.

Interior Minister Joan Clos Tuesday said the government would be adopting a range of incentive measures to encourage windfarms.  Spain, where the energy market was deregulated in 1998, is second only to Germany in Europe in terms of installed wind power capacity, at 8,155 MW in December 2004, compared with 14,000 MW for Germany.


Related: Spain’s Navarra region embraces green energy

Air, Water Powerful Partners in Northwest

Power-generating capacity from wind jumped 27 percent last year and is expected to do the same this year.

But it is in the Northwest where wind power, an often capricious source of electricity, meshes most seamlessly with the existing electricity grid, which relies heavily on hydroelectric dams, power managers say. This meshing of power sources is done in a way that maximizes power reliability while minimizing the grid’s need for energy from fossil fuels, which release the greenhouses gases that cause global warming.

When the wind fails here or when big cities demand peak power, dams can step in almost instantly and steady the electricity load. Hydroelectric power plants ramp up faster and more efficiently than coal-fired or nuclear plants, and without the chronic uncertainties in cost that plague gas-fired plants. The Pacific Northwest gets more of its electricity from hydro — 67 percent — than any other region of the country. That’s mostly because the Columbia, by itself, embodies a third of the continent’s hydroelectric potential.

The era of dam building, though, is long gone, and existing dams cannot keep up with the new demand for power.

As a result, wind capacity in this region is exploding, from just 25 megawatts in 1998 to a projected 3,800 megawatts by 2009.


Tiny, Plastic Wind Turbines Suitable for City Dwellers

Engineers at the University of Hong Kong and a private renewable energy company have developed a new micro wind turbine that can generate electricity even if wind speeds are as low as two meters per second.  Lucien Gambarota , the main inventor of the technology, says this is its advantage over conventional small wind turbines, which only work about 40 percent of the time because of low wind speed.

Gambarota says the small turbines are ideal for crowded cities such as Hong Kong because they can be installed on rooftops and balconies.

Their design is simple: plastic gearwheels, each about 25 centimeters in diameter, are linked to one another and turn, moved by the wind. Groups of gearwheels can be arranged in an array of shapes and sizes, ranging from about two up to thousands of square meters, depending on how much energy is needed and how much space is available. The energy generated by the turbines is stored in a battery, which then powers electrical appliances.

The wind turbine is easy to install and comparatively cheap. At the moment, a set of 20 gearwheels costs about $25. Gambarota says the price will go down once the turbines are being mass-produced, making them a good option for consumers who want to cut down on their energy costs.

“Let’s say if you have good conditions, five, six meters [of wind] per second, if you are a family with one kid you need most probably three, four square meters of that then you can most probably cover at least 60, 70 percent of your [energy] needs.”

[TreeHugger::via::ChoSun, Plastics News]

Dutch Offshore Wind Project Sets Financing Precedent

Located 23 kilometers off the Netherlands coastline in the North Sea, the 120-megawatt (MW) Q7 wind farm is already garnering attention and awards — not because construction is ahead of schedule with 42 mono piles already in place — but rather because of the project’s unique financing structure.

The $510 million offshore project, which recently won the prestigious Deal of the Year Award, an initiative of Euromoney in cooperation with Project Finance Magazine, is financed completely by a group of international banks.

Owned and developed by subsidiaries of ENECO, a Dutch energy company, Econcern and Energy Investment Holdings, two Dutch renewable energy developers, the project is being financed on a non-recourse basis.  This means that the leading banks involved — Dexia, Rabobank and BNP Paribas — rely solely on the project to generate the revenues needed to service the interest costs and principal repayment of the financing with very limited additional sponsoring support.


2006: The year of renewable energy?

from… oil-rig225.jpg to… solar-panels225.jpg

In September Chevron announced the discovery of a field containing up to 15 billion barrels of oil beneath the Gulf of Mexico, touting it as “a platform for growth for years to come.” Read the fine print, though, and you get a different story. To recover the first samples of oil there in 2004, engineers floating 175 miles off the Louisiana coast had to send drill gear into 7,000-foot-deep water and penetrate four miles of rock. The company spent tens of millions of dollars on computer modeling, cutting-edge seismological tools, and exploratory drilling; just renting the drill rig cost Chevron and its partners more than $200,000 a day. The results suggest that oil from the new reservoir, called Jack 2, could cost three to four times as much to extract as oil from traditional locations

The upside of stratospheric oil prices is reflected in what is happening on the other side of the balance sheet. The past year looks like the turning point when alternatives to fossil fuels—everything from solar energy, wind turbines, ethanol, and the hybrid car—finally hit the mainstream. “We’ll look back and say this is the year where people rallied together to start down the irreversible path of becoming less dependent on oil,” says Samir Kaul, a partner in venture capital firm Khosla Ventures, which invests in energy and other tech startups.

Meanwhile, the markets are voting with their dollars. By the summer, the stock market value of all renewable energy firms larger than $40 million doubled, to total $50 billion. Venture capitalists, big banks, and even old-school bond peddlers jumped in. This past year, 39 French and German wind farms bought nearly $600 million in bonds in May from Italian Bank UniCredit’s HVB Group—a deal that would have been unheard of even two years ago…

Even Big Oil is jumping headlong into the renewables market.

More at the link below:

Radar ‘saves bats at wind farms’

Bats at risk of being killed by the growing number of wind farms could be saved with the use of radars.

Bat deaths at wind farms are thought to exceed those of birds and it is feared some species could eventually become endangered if action is not taken.

Now researchers at Aberdeen University believe radar may be key.

They studied the behaviour of bats at radar installations and found they did not forage where electromagnetic radiation could be measured.

[BBC News]

Navarra embraces green energy

“At the moment, less than 7% of Europe’s needs are covered by wind power, biofuels or solar energy.

But in the Navarra region, in north-eastern Spain, almost 70% of the electricity comes from the wind and the sun.

You do not have to look far in Navarra to see a windmill. Not the sort that Don Quixote fought, but the hi-tech turbines that provide much of the electricity here.

With no coal, oil or gas of its own, this mountainous region deliberately went for renewable energy in the late 1980s.  The first wind farm was built in full view of the regional capital Pamplona, so that people could get used to it.

Now, with some 1,100 windmills dotted all over Navarra, this tiny region is capable of generating more electricity from renewable sources than big EU countries like France or Poland.”

[BBC News]

Big is Beautiful.

Renewable Energy goes from distributed generation to utility-scale power plants (although this has been going on for years now):

“SMALL is beautiful,” wrote the economist E. F. Schumacher almost 35 years ago. In most areas of the economy, he reasoned, production had become too big and too centralized.

But he might have been wrong about the subject he knew most about: energy. When it comes to alternative ways of generating power, big may be better.

Wind, solar and other renewable-energy technologies that were once considered more appropriate for single homes or small communities are reaching levels of scale and centralizing that were formerly the province of coal- and gas-fired plants and nuclear reactors. In other words, green is going giant.

The companies that are building or dreaming up large projects argue that there are economies of scale to be gained.


Massive Offshore Wind Turbines Safe for Birds

Infrared monitoring shows that savvy seabirds steer clear of wind turbines:

Uncertainty surrounding wind power’s impact on wildlife–particularly the potential for deadly collisions between birds and turbines–has tarnished its image and even delayed some wind farms. Indeed, the first large offshore wind farm proposed for U.S. waters–the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts’s Nantucket Sound–has been held up in part by concerns that its 130 turbines could kill thousands of seabirds annually. Now a simple infrared collision-detection system developed by Denmark’s National Environmental Research Institute is helping clear the air.


Thanks to Ian for this post – do you have suggestions for green.mnp?  Email them to us.