Renewable Energy Guidebook


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While the world continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels (petroleum, coal and gas) for power, efforts to develop more sustainable resources have caused remarkable growth in renewable energy.

This collection of recent articles from Chemical Engineering and POWER magazines presents a timely and informative overview of global efforts on many renewable energy fronts. It includes solar and wind power generation, advancements in geothermal and hydroelectric technology, and efforts to integrate such renewable sources into today’s electrical grid, such as through the use of large-scale energy storage devices. Also touched upon are bio-based renewable fuels, such as the use of biomass and waste for making solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels (including biogas), and techniques for using hydrogen as an energy carrier.

Delivered in a PDF format. 116 pages.

Articles Include: 

Section One: News and Cover Stories

Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CSP): The Future Looks Bright

New technology is helping to reduce costs and enabling CSP plants to generate electrical power 24 hours per day

Progress to Limit Climate Change

As world leaders agree on the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, major milestones and new technologies point toward potential solutions

The Biogas Boom

New technologies are increasing production efficiencies, making this renewable energy source even more popular

Cutting-edge Composites: Materials for a New Era

The combination of advanced materials and processing techniques results in new composites that can aid industries in achieving increased levels of efficiency

Redox Flow Batteries Charge Forward

Developments in redox flow batteries are moving at a tremendous pace to meet the growing need for large scale energy-storage systems, which are used for stabilizing electric power distribution

Innovative Wind Turbine Blade Inspection and Maintenance Tools

Wind Power Projects Must Be Managed as Electrical Generation Plants

Wind turbine blades, gearboxes, and generators get most of the attention both within and beyond the power industry. The focus is often on increased capacity and blade lengths, as well as drive train premature failures. That’s natural, because those rotating blades are the most visible part of a wind project. However, successful operation of a wind installation also depends on attending to the many balance-of-plant components that are less visible.

Wind Turbine Generator Maintenance: What to Expect and Why

When most of today’s wind projects were developed, first costs were the focus; operations and maintenance (O&M) costs were largely unknown. Now, with hundreds of turbine models in operation—sometimes at a single site—O&M complexity is magnified, which makes understanding common failure modes and how to prepare for handling them essential.

Leveraging Generation Synergies with Hybrid Plants

Everyone loves efficiencies. Combining generation technologies can create a plant that’s more than the sum of its parts, but engineering challenges mean these projects are not for the faint of heart.

New Zealand Strives to Maximize the Value of Geothermal Wastewater

Using the heat from geothermal discharge water, or brine, is just one way to maximize the value of this “waste” stream. New Zealand, a geothermal energy leader, also is pursuing mineral extraction from brine to increase overall profitability of the sector.

The Outlook for Small Hydropower in China

As the global electric power industry continues to develop clean, high-quality energy capacity for sustainable development, the position of small hydropower has changed. In the past few decades, small hydropower development in China has experienced positive momentum, but there are still problems to be solved. To solve these problems, various relationships within the small hydropower industry must be rationalized to enable the sector to advance.

Reducing Weather-Related Risks in Renewable Generation

You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you handle the ways it affects your renewable plant. From financial hedging to accurate predictions, the tools in a plant owner’s arsenal are more capable than ever.

Agua Caliente Solar Project, Yuma County, Arizona

The 290-MW Agua Caliente Solar Project is the latest addition to the nation’s growing solar capacity and now holds the title as the largest photovoltaic plant in the world. The $1.8 billion project was completed in April 2014.

Ashta Hydropower Plant, Shkoder, Albania

Retrofitted to the outlet of a 30-year-old reservoir, the two-stage, 53-MW, 90-turbine Ashta Hydropower Plant on the Drin River in northwest Albania is a textbook example of how innovative run-of-river hydropower projects are harnessing latent generation worldwide.

Hometown BioEnergy, Le Sueur, Minnesota

Using agricultural and food-processing waste products, Hometown BioEnergy is helping the Minnesota. Municipal Power Agency meet state-mandated renewable energy standards while also providing a valuable fertilizer for area farmers and solid biomass as a fuel for other facilities.

London Array Offshore Wind Farm, Outer Thames Estuary, UK

The 175-turbine London Array wind farm was built on schedule, on a scale once thought unfeasible for the emergent offshore wind sector—and despite economic headwinds of the global recession and rough weather and sea conditions. Its success has been vital for the UK, which has anchored its energy future with offshore wind power.

Solana Generating Station, Maricopa County, Arizona

The 280-MW Solana Generating Station combines concentrating solar power (trough) technology with thermal energy storage, which allows the plant to operate after the sun goes down with up to a 38% annual average capacity factor. The $2 billion project began generating electricity in October 2013.

Alqueva II Pumped II Storage Hydropower Plant, Alqueva, Portugal

European Union carbon emission limitations and a lack of indigenous fossil fuel resources pushed Portugal in 2000 to embrace renewable energy. Today, Portugal supplies over 50% of its annual electricity demand from renewable resources, an increase of over 25% in the past five years alone. Leading Portugal’s renewable energy transformation is Alqueva II, a new pumped storage hydropower plant that supplies baseload electricity and backstops the large amount of variable wind generation in the south.

Macarthur Wind Farm, Victoria, Australia

Fully commissioned in January 2013, the 420-MW Macarthur Wind Farm is the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere. But sourcing and erecting 140 wind turbines for this massive project was logistically challenging and required a rethink on several levels.

Mesquite Solar 1, Maricopa County, Arizona

Sempra U.S. Gas & Power’s jointly owned Mesquite Solar 1 project added 150 MW of photovoltaic-generated electricity to the grid in January 2013, making it one of the largest PV projects of its type in the country. Sempra U.S. Gas & Power’s long-term plan is to expand the facility to 700 MW.

Polaniec Green Unit, Polaniec, Poland

When Gérard Mestrallet, chairman and CEO of GDF SUEZ, set a target of doubling the company’s renewable energy capacity from 2007 to 2013, it seemed very ambitious. Projects like the Polaniec Green Unit have helped the company reach its goal with room to spare.

Shams 1, Madinat Zayed, United Arab Emirates

The Arabian Peninsula might seem like the ideal location for a concentrating solar power plant, but developers of the 100-MW Shams 1 CSP project in the UAE—the world’s largest at its inauguration in March— found that things were nowhere near that simple.

Alamosa Solar Project, San Luis Valley, Colorado

As the largest solar plant of its type in the world, the 30-MW Alamosa Solar Project is currently enjoying its place in the sun. The innovative project consists of 504 concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar trackers, each featuring a CPV solar cell panel assembly mounted on a support column. The modular design of the assembly allows the project to easily accommodate future improvements in cell technology.

Coca-Cola/Mas Energy Trigeneration Facility, Atlanta, Georgia

By taking a waste product and converting it into a fuel source, the 6.5-MW Coca-Cola/Mas Energy Facility became the first U.S. operational trigeneration project fueled by landfill gas. Since March, the new system has provided electricity, steam, and chilled water to the adjacent Coca-Cola Syrup Plant, satisfying most of the plant’s energy requirements and reducing its long-term energy costs.

Gujarat Solar Park, State of Gujarat, India

Set up by the Gujarat government, the Gujarat Solar Park is actually a group of solar parks that provide dedicated common infrastructure for photovoltaic-powered projects owned and operated by numerous individual companies. When construction at all the parks is completed by the end of 2013, the Gujarat Solar Park is projected to reach a combined capacity of almost 1,000 MW, which will make it the world’s largest solar energy generation installation.

Stillwater Solar-Geothermal Hybrid Plant, Churchill County, Nevada

The Stillwater hybrid facility is the world’s first renewable energy project that pairs geothermal power’s baseload generation capacity with solar power’s peak capacity. Inaugurated in May, the 26-MW solar plant is integrated with the adjacent 33-MW geothermal plant, which began operations in 2009, and provides energy to run the geothermal plant’s auxiliary loads.

Three Gorges Dam, Yangtze River, Hubei Province, China

After nine years of construction, installation, and testing, the Three Gorges Dam is now complete. On May 23, 2012, the last main generator finished its final test, increasing the facility’s capacity to 22.5 GW and making it the world’s largest capacity hydroelectric power plant.

Walney Offshore Windfarms, Irish Sea, UK

Officially commissioned in February 2012, the two Walney Offshore Windfarms—Walney 1 and Walney 2—together have 102 wind turbines with a total capacity of 367.2 MW. With their combined capacity, the windfarms qualify as one of the world’s largest offshore wind energy facilities and provide clean electricity to approximately 320,000 UK households.


Section Two: Technology Briefs

‘Anode-less’ lithium battery prototype doubles energy density

Scaleup for modular H2 production via PEM electrolysis

Dry adhesive technology mimics gecko’s feet

A hybrid solar cell that utilizes waste heat to boost efficiency

A system to extract energy from waste gases

A very efficient heat exchanger for very hot applications

Alkylate process featuring a solid-acid catalyst can use multiple feedstocks

Air-capture of CO2 using waste process heat

An efficient cycle for utilizing waste heat

Bacteria make lactic acid from palm waste

An organic waste-to-biogas system to be scaled up in first installation

A promising process to recover Li from seawater

A process for making longer carbon nanotubes

This process converts organic food waste to liquid fertilizer

This PEM fuel cell has H2 storage built-in

This electrochemical cell sequesters CO2 and generates electricity

This coating makes glass into a solar panel

Making a mercury-removing polymer from industrial waste

This ‘ultrabattery’ makes its commercial debut

Large-scale production of carbon nanotubes

Modular hydrogen-production technology uses modified SMR process

Solar-electric hybrid furnace could enable improved magnesium processing

Recover waste heat with ORC technology

Reduce energy costs by combining wastewater treatment and desalination

Progress for high-efficiency ammonia-cogeneration plant

Pilot plant slated for a fast-pyrolysis process that converts biomass into fuels

A step forward for the bio-production of L-arginine

Paint a thermoelectric device onto any shaped surface to recover waste heat

An inexpensive adsorbant for removing silver from wastewater

Monetizing coke-oven gas, while capturing CO2

Collaboration lowers cost for bio-based FDME process

Making fuels from almost any organic material

Modified MOFs could cut carbon-capture costs in half

Tin-based catalyst for photodecomposition

Making bio-oils via solvent liquefaction

Section Two: Technology Briefs

An enzymatic route to lignin-based functional chemicals

Improving the efficiency of solar desalination

Fuel-cell-based carbon capture system can augment power generation

A 3-D printed polymer with enzymes turns methane to methanol

Continuous crude-oil production from algae

Selectively recover CO with this soft nano-porous material

Commercial debut for a low-cost stationary energy-storage system

In-situ chemical remediation of soil and groundwater

The commercial debut for a gas-to-gasoline process

Combine wastewater treatment with biofuel production

The launch of a new bioethylene-production process

Biomass torrefaction plant undergoing expansion

Bioelectrochemical system treats wastewater and generates biogas

A new catalyst may reduce costs of catalytic converters

Xylenes production method takes advantage of low-cost methanol feedstock

Electrode design increases efficiency of suspended-solids removal

Using air and hydrostatic pressure to store energy underwater

Removing harmful metals from wastewater with crab shells