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Category : Renewable Energy

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Renewables now account for 24% of US’ total energy generation capacity

Renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) strongly dominated new US energy generation capacity additions in 2020, according to the SUN DAY Campaign of data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Combined, renewables accounted for 22,451MW, or more than three-quarters (78.09%) of the 28,751MW of new utility-scale capacity reported to have been added last year.

Wind (13,626MW) and solar (8,543MW) each contributed more new energy generation capacity than did natural gas (6,259 MW).

FERC’s latest monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report (with data through December 31, 2020) also reveals that natural gas accounted for 21.77% of the total, with very small contributions by coal (30MW), oil (6MW), and “other” sources (5MW) providing the balance. There were no new capacity additions by nuclear power or geothermal energy during the year.

Hydro Review: Commercializing a New Small Hydropower Technology

Natel Energy has developed a new small hydropower turbine technology that offers an environmentally friendly and compact, modular hydro generation system. This article discusses the technology and its potential future applications.

By Lise Houston

Natel Energy in Alameda, Calif., is dedicated to advancing hydropower technology to make it more environmentally friendly and cost-effective, as well as flexible enough to be a go-to source of power for operators in rivers of all sizes throughout the U.S. and around the world. With a name appropriately coined from the phrase “natural electric,” Natel is focused on enabling a distributed or decentralized hydropower model featuring systems of smaller projects-– that maintain river connectivity – networked together as “virtual power plants” or VPPs, as opposed to the current approach of large centralized dams, which can be damaging to wildlife and the adjacent ecosystem.

Founded by Gia Schneider and Abe Schneider, siblings who gained a deep appreciation for the power of rivers and the beauty of their ecosystems during family camping and fishing trips as children, Natel is advancing its vision of “Restoration Hydro,” combining low environmental impact with high economic value. This can be a boon to organizations looking to decarbonize their operations further and transition to a low- or zero-carbon grid.

Wind developers are retrofitting newer projects with bigger, better blades

Xcel Energy recently received approval to repower a pair of wind farms originally built in 2015 to take advantage of improved technology and expiring tax credits.

Utilities and developers are repowering wind turbines with bigger, better blades years ahead of the end of their original life expectancies as they look to take advantage of technology improvements and expiring federal tax credits.

Xcel Energy recently won approval for a $750 million plan to retrofit four wind farms in Minnesota and North Dakota, two of which were built in 2015. The oldest of the batch originally started generating power in 2008.

Wind farm contracts and decommissioning plans generally set life expectancies around 25 to 35 years. By repowering the projects long before that, utilities are able to boost output around 10% or more, adding power to the grid without facing fresh permitting or interconnection hurdles.

EDC selects turbine for 29-MW geothermal expansion project in the Philippines

Turboden S.p.A., a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group Company and provider of Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology, said that the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) selected its turbine for the 29-MW Palayan Bayan geothermal expansion project.

The plant is to be built at the Bacon-Manito geothermal facility located in Luzon Island, Philippines.

EDC, a vertically integrated geothermal company signed a contract with Turboden to supply a new class binary power generation system to recover heat from a brine flow downstream of an existing flash plant. The project is expected to be operational by end 2022 and is part of overall efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from thermal power generation by replacing the local grid’s dependence on fossil fuels and other energy sources.

U.S. wind generation sets new daily and hourly records at end of 2020

In the final months of 2020, electricity generation from wind turbines in the United States set daily and hourly records. Hourly data collected in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Hourly Electric Grid Monitor show an hourly record set late in the day on December 22 and a daily record set on the following day.

On April 10, 2019, daily electricity generation from wind turbines in the United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) reached a high of 1.42 million megawatthours (MWh). That record stood for a year and a half before it was surpassed on several days in November and December 2020. Wind electricity generation reached 1.76 million MWh on December 23, or about 17% of total electricity generation on that day. On average, EIA estimates that wind accounted for 9% of U.S. electricity generation in 2020.

Wind-powered electricity has increased in the United States as more wind turbines have been installed in recent years. Strong wind conditions in November and December, especially in the central United States, led to more output from wind turbines. Wind power surpassed hydropower as the predominant renewable electricity generation source in the United States on an annual basis in 2019. In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA expects wind to exceed hydroelectricity in every month of 2021 and 2022.