Quweira solar power plant officially opened in Jordan

/  Jordan Prime Minister Hani Fawzi Al-Mulki has opened the 105MW Quweira solar power plant in the Kingdom of Jordan. For construction of the solar power plant, autonomous foreign aid agency Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has provided AED550m ($150m).

ADFD director general Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi said: “ADFD’s involvement in the Quweira solar power plant project is in line with its active assistance to the Kingdom of Jordan with which the UAE enjoys time-tested bilateral ties.

“Through financing several major development projects in Jordan, ADFD has ensured a positive impact on the lives of thousands of Jordanians and helped Jordan’s Government to fulfill its socio-economic plans and development goals.”

The Quweira solar power plant features 328,320 photovoltaic panels, which is expected to annually produce 227GWh of solar power over a period of 20 years. The power generated from the plant will be sufficient to illuminate 50,000 homes in the region.

The plant also features electrical switches, a medium voltage and signal cable system, transformers and all required equipment to connect the plant to the national power grid.

“In line with its focus on inclusive social and economic development across developing countries, ADFD has prioritised renewable energy as a catalyst for growth, enabling the provision of clean, reliable and affordable power that boosts incomes and enhances energy security,” Suwaidi added.

The solar project is said to have created 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and is set to provide 30 permanent jobs to operate and maintain the site.

The Quweira solar power plant is said to be in line with the Jordanian Government’s objective of generating 20% of energy from renewables by early 2020.  /


Flexible operation of nuclear power plants lowers operating costs

/  Researchers have used a mathematical model and simulations to show that adjusting the output of nuclear power plants to accommodate renewable sources of energy could improve the economics of nuclear energy. It could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and electricity costs for consumers.

The collaborative team from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explored the technical constraints on flexible operations at nuclear power plants using a mathematical model. It then introduced a new way to model how those challenges affect the operation of power stations.

“Flexible nuclear power operations are a ‘win-win-win,’ lowering power system operating costs, increasing revenues for nuclear plant owners and significantly reducing curtailment of renewable energy,” said the team in an article for Applied Energy.

The study shows that nuclear power plants don’t have to produce power at maximum rated capacity in ‘baseload’ mode whenever they are online. Instead, they can respond to near real-time data, such as hourly electricity market prices and second-to-second frequency regulations, and alter their output to match the supply of renewable energy.

Operators could, for example, generate less nuclear power when more renewable energy is available and sell their valuable operating reserves, or quickly increase output to help grid operators rebalance supply during a power outage.

Similarly flexible strategies are already being used in countries such as France and Germany, but it is less common in the US.

“Nuclear power plants are governed by a different set of principles compared to other generators, and our approach enables the representation of these relationships in the analysis of power systems and electricity markets,” said Argonne Nuclear Science and Engineering principal investigator Francesco Ganda.

Nuclear plant flexibility was also found to improve the integration of wind and solar power, which was recently reported to outpace fossil fuels in net energy additions for 2017.

The research was partly funded by Argonne’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development programme.  /


Morgan Stanley to offer $250bn for low-carbon solutions by 2030

/  Global financial services firm Morgan Stanley committed to provide $250bn in low-carbon financing by 2030.

As governments, organisations, and companies worldwide are moving towards a low-carbon economy, Morgan Stanley believes that low-carbon financing would benefit the company and the environment.

Morgan Stanley chief sustainability officer and chief marketing officer Audrey Choi said: “This announcement reflects Morgan Stanley’s continued commitment to enabling private sector capital to find attractive opportunities in the growing market for low-carbon solutions.”

Since 2006, the company has invested more than $84bn in transactions that support clean-tech and renewable energy.

Morgan Stanley further explained that governments and other entities have to invest nearly $90tn in infrastructure between 2015 and 2030 in order to achieve goals outlined by the Global Commission on Economy and Climate.

Institutional Securities chairman Jeff Holzschuh said: “Our firm’s businesses are uniquely positioned to drive the development of low-carbon solutions in partnership with our clients.

“Building on our experience in the space, we believe this target sets the bar for our businesses to drive impact in the growing markets for low-carbon technologies.”

With the announcement of its new commitment, Morgan Stanley expects to create capital for renewable energy development and sustainable bonds that will allow companies and municipalities to make progress in their sustainability goals, clean-technologies and resilient infrastructure.

Last September, the financial firm issued a commitment to source 100% of its global energy needs from renewable energy by 2022.  /


Belmont Trading upgrades EV battery recycling facility in UK

/  Scottish battery recycling company Belmont Trading is adding new dismantling lines to its facility in order to prepare for the disassembly of a growing number of electric vehicle (EV) batteries (Li-Ion).

Belmont Trading UK’s Kilwinning plant currently recycles all types of domestic and industrial batteries. The plant receives a majority of the products from the UK market and the remaining volumes from Europe and the US.

In order to cope with the changing trends, Belmont has upgraded its 25,000ft² recycling facility with a £300,000 investment to install the equipment that can sort and shred thousands of batteries every day.

The newly installed dismantling lines are said to be capable of coping with the disassembly of Li-Ion EV batteries, which are used in electric cars, forklift trucks, electric golf trolleys and e-bikes.

Belmont Trading UK managing director Jeff Bormann said:  “The rising number of electric vehicles comes along with an increasing demand for Li-Ion batteries and we are already starting to work with the automotive and telecoms industry on its recycling strategies for these batteries.

“Elements within these batteries such as cobalt and nickel are valuable, so it is economically worthwhile to recycle EV batteries.

“Whilst this can be quite a time and cost-consuming process, it has to be planned properly, hence our move to adapt our industrial plant to prepare for the increase in EV battery numbers which we anticipate will increase markedly in the coming years.

“The key at all times is to extract maximum value with minimum environmental impact by recycling in the UK.”  /


Acciona to build renewable plants in Chile

/  Spanish renewable energy company Acciona Energía (Acciona) is planning to build two new photovoltaic plants and two windfarms in Chile over the next three years with an investment of nearly $600m.

With a total capacity of around 400MW, Acciona will build the photovoltaic plants in Atacama and Antofagasta, while the windfarms will be built in La Araucanía. By early next year, the firm intends to begin the construction works at the 62MWp-capacity Almeyda photovoltaic plant site and expects to complete the project within the same year.

Spread over 150ha, the Almeyda photovoltaic plant will feature solar modules with horizontal tracker technology.

Acciona is planning to begin construction of the 64MWp Usya photovoltaic plant by the third quarter of next year. The Usya photovoltaic plant will be equipped with solar modules and cover 105ha of land in Calama, Antofagasta.

The company is planning to commence the operations at this plant by mid-2020. Acciona will be investing nearly $150m to complete the two new photovoltaic plants.

The Spanish company is currently constructing the 183MW San Gabriel windfarm with a $300m investment in the municipality of Renaico, La Araucanía, and is expected to commence its operations by early 2020.

Acciona is also planning to build the Tolpán windfarm with an initially planned capacity of 87MW near the San Gabriel windfarm with an investment of approximately $150m. The exact capacity of Tolpán is yet to be confirmed.

Acciona South America CEO José Ignacio Escobar said: “We are undertaking major investments over this three-year period, which will considerably strengthen our presence in the thriving renewable energy sector in Chile.”

The energy firm secured the contracts through two public energy auctions and has also signed contracts to supply the renewable energy to companies including Google, Falabella, ENAMI and Aguas Chañar.  /


Atlantis to build 1GW tidal energy project in France

/  Results from a study by global renewable project developer Atlantis suggest the site at Le Raz Blanchard, France, is suitable for a 2GW tidal energy project in the region. Atlantis has submitted its plan to the French Government and outlined the possibility to deliver 1GW of tidal power by 2025 at Le Raz Blanchard, Normandy.

In its plan, Atlantis indicated that the tidal project has the potential to create nearly 10,000 jobs and attract investments of more than €3bn. If the project is approved by French authorities, it would be the largest tidal power project worldwide.

The company also mentioned that the 1GW project has the potential to drive down the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) for tidal power when the final phase of the project is commissioned.

Atlantis CEO Tim Cornelius said: “France is sitting on a low-cost renewable energy gold mine at Raz Blanchard. Now that the tidal stream industry has been through the R&D phase and is now entering full-scale commercialisation, France should be at the forefront of exploiting this environmentally benign, predictable and inexhaustible source of renewable energy.

“Our proposal, if implemented, could quickly create a new industry in France attracting investment in local companies to establish a supply chain capable of delivering more than 1,000, 1.9MW tidal turbines, along with their associated foundations and the onshore infrastructure.

“With the support of the French Government, we can provide energy security, job creation, economic stimulation for the Normandy and Brittany regions along with the opportunity to lead Europe in the field of marine energy generation.”

Atlantis further explained to the government that the 1GW site could be quickly expanded to 2GW by 2027 and the Le Raz Blanchard tidal project is also expected to open up an export market worth nearly €400m in turbine sales every year.  /


Gallium oxide semiconductor could improve electronic efficiency

/  Researchers from Ohio State University demonstrated that the wide-bandgap semiconductor gallium oxide (Ga2O3) can be engineered into nanometre-scale structures to enable electrons to move faster within the structure and improve the efficiency of future high-power electronics.

The article titled ‘Demonstration of high mobility and quantum transport in modulation-doped β-(AlxGa1-x)2O3/Ga2O3 heterostructures,’ was published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, and discusses how gallium oxide could further improve semiconductor technology.

“Gallium oxide has the potential to enable transistors that would surpass current technology,” said Ohio State University’s Siddharth Rajan, who led the research.

For use in electronic devices, the electrons in the material must be able to move easily across an electric field and demonstrate ‘high electron mobility’. Many semiconductors are doped with other elements to improve their effectiveness, yet dopants also scatter electrons, limiting the material’s electron mobility.

To solve this problem, researchers have been using a process called modulation doping, a common technique to achieve high mobility that had not been applied to gallium oxide until the experiments of Rajan’s team.

The researchers created a semiconductor heterostructure, creating an atomic interface between gallium oxide and its alloy with aluminium, aluminium gallium oxide; these semiconductors have the same crystal structure but different energy gaps. A sheet of electron-donating impurities, measuring a few atoms thick, was embedded inside the aluminium gallium oxide, enabling electrons to move across into the gallium dioxide.

The experiment demonstrated record mobilities, and showed processes known as Subnikov-de Haas oscillations, quantum phenomena that confirm the formation of high mobility 2D electron gas in the system, and enabled the researchers to measure critical mass properties. This structure could lead to a new class of quantum structures and electronics that take advantage of gallium oxide.

Gallium oxide is particularly useful in high-power and high-frequency devices as its bandgap – the energy needed to power an electron to the point where it is conductive – is one of the largest of the wide-bandgap materials being developed. It can also be produced directly from its molten form, unlike other semiconductors, enabling high-quality crystals to be manufactured on a large scale.

Using wide-bandgap semiconductors to produce blue LEDs was at the centre of the research by Shuji Nakamura, Hiroshi Amano and Isamu Akasaki which won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics.  /


Study shows energy providers are slow to adopt AI

/  A survey by consultancy firm Roland Berger found that less than a quarter of utility companies have a plan in place to employ artificial intelligence (AI). This is despite the report’s prediction that AI could result in efficiency gains for utility providers of a fifth within five years.

With a growing shift to renewables energy supply will become more intermittent, creating an energy market which has a more volatile balance between supply and demand. Real-time data analysis and quick responses - powered by AI - is the solution, according to Roland Berger.

For energy providers, AI has the potential to optimise power plants with self-regulating and repairing turbines, as well as enhancing performance, reducing wear and tear and lowering emissions. AI is also set to revolutionise energy consumption in the home, with smart homes full of devices such as wireless washing machines and smart heating optimising energy use and reducing waste.

“Companies will need to exploit the possibilities of new technologies, such as AI,” Torsten Henzelmann partner Roland Berger told Consultancy.uk. “Failure to do so could cause them to fall behind in the race to remain relevant in the fiercely contested energy market.”

Responses showed that the utilities industry is aware of AI’s revolutionising potential, with 81% responding that AI will change or completely replace processes along the value chain and 53% believing AI will bring efficiency gains of 10%-30% in the next five years.

However, less than a quarter of industry respondents said their company had a plan to harness the technology, suggesting disconnect between AI’s appreciation and its implementation. More than 70% said that they would adopt off-the-shelf AI products from elsewhere rather than invest in-house, indicating that many in the industry are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Roland Berger advises that firms move quickly to implement more innovative AI strategies in order gain an advantage over their industry rivals. “Utilities firms are waking up to this potential, but their approach is still very cautious and risk-averse,” said Henzelmann.

The potential amount of harvestable data AI is reliant upon is also not being fully used, with 73% responding that data was either not collected or unknown. Only 17% rated their firm’s data quality and availability as ‘good’.

The report recommends that utility companies act soon ‘because data harvesting requirements need to be identified early in the strategic process’.  /