Category Archives: hydro

PopSci’s Top 50 Greenest US Cities


I am a little behind the times, but at the beginning of February Popular Science Magazine came out with their list of America’s 50 Greenest Cities. They compiled the list based on four criteria – electricity (10 points), transportation (10 points), green living (5 points) and recycling & green perspective (5 points). Here are the top 20:

1. Portland, Ore. 23.1
2. San Francisco, Calif. 23.0
3. Boston, Mass. 22.7
4. Oakland, Calif. 22.5
5. Eugene, Ore. 22.4
6. Cambridge, Mass. 22.2
7. Berkeley, Calif. 22.2
8. Seattle, Wash. 22.1
9. Chicago, Ill. 21.3
10. Austin, Tex. 21.0
11. Minneapolis, Minn. 20.3
12. St. Paul, Minn. 20.2
13. Sunnyvale, Calif. 19.9
14. Honolulu, Hawaii 19.9
15. Fort Worth, Tex. 19.7
16. Albuquerque, N.M. 19.1
17. Syracuse, N.Y. 18.9
18. Huntsville, Ala. 18.4
19. Denver, Colo. 18.2
20. New York, N.Y. 18.2

Check the PopSci site for the full list and all the details. They also highlight 6 case studies of cities making concerted efforts to green themselves.

Oakland: Zero Emission Bus

Chicago: Make Power, Save the Heat

San Francisco: Sunroofs in Fog City

Santa Rosa: Tapping Geysers for Watts

Salt Lake City: Heating Homes from Waste

New York City: Turning the Tides into Electricity

Another interesting analysis of green spots in the US was listed by a PopSci reader in the comments. Check the site for an interesting interactive state-by-state look at green stat’s across the country.



Hydro Power in Norway


Statkraft opens PÃ¥lsbu hydro plant

The refurbished PÃ¥lsbu Power Plant, which lies directly at the base of PÃ¥lsbu Dam in Nore og Uvdal in Norway, has begun operations.

For the first time, power will be generated using the water that flows from PÃ¥lsbu Dam to the Tunhovd Fjord, taking advantage of the old PÃ¥lsbu Dam’s drop, situated between PÃ¥lsbu and the Tunhovd Fjord in uppermost NumedalslÃ¥gen. The facility will generate approximately 22 GWh annually. Previously, water was released from PÃ¥lsbu Dam into the Tunhovd Fjord without utilising the water’s energy.

‘PÃ¥lsbu Power Plant is a future-oriented project that exemplifies the new, environment-friendly way to utilise hydropower – it protects nature and is more efficient than before,’ says BÃ¥rd Mikkelsen, President and CEO of Statkraft.

[renewable energy world]

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.


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:

Wave power plant goes online

Australia based Energetech will soon begin supplying clean electric power from Australia’s first commercial wave-generated power station located 100 yards off shore in the beach community of Wallongong.

Wave power generation, a developing technology, holds tremendous potential for clean energy production. An added benefit of the Energetech technology is its capability to create both clean electrical power and drinking water. The Wallongong station will eventually supply power to up to 500 nearby homes and can desalinate water, a precious commodity in drought ravaged Australia, for almost an equal number.

Ocean waves provide the densest and most constant of all natural power sources. In the Engergetech prototype, electricity is generated when waves wash into a funnel facing the ocean, driving air through a pipe and into a turbine.

When fully operational the plant will create 500 kw of clean energy while producing 2,000 litres of desalinated water per day.