Nicaraguan resort cuts bills with solar+storage

A Nicaraguan resort community is set to address soaring grid power costs with a solar photovoltaic (PV) array coupled with battery energy storage.
Rancho Santana is a 1000-ha resort and residential community on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. It features 152 homes and its management says its load is growing every year.
To mitigate increasing grid power costs, Rancho Santana is set to install an 800 kWp solar array coupled with a 200 kW flow battery. The zinc-iron redox battery will be installed by US-based ViZn Energy Systems, while Nicaraguan EPC firm Pelican SA will install the PV system and integrate it with the battery and backup diesel generators.
Rancho Santana CEO Matt Turner said: ‘Our annual utility expenses are growing and we are exposed to significant peak demand charges, so we had to find a way to sustainably reduce our energy costs without impacting the sensitive environment at the resort.’ 
He said the solar+storage system is expected to save the resort over $250,000 per year on its utility bills.
Ron Van Dell, president and CEO of Vizn Energy Systems, added: ‘Electricity in Nicaragua is amongst the most expensive in Latin America and many C&I customers there are on a grid tariff with a peak rate between 6 pm and 10 pm when the energy usage spikes. There is also no net metering for excess solar electricity, so our four-hour battery is a strong match for the market because it enables customers to install larger PV systems, get significantly cheaper energy than the grid rates, and mitigate elevated energy and demand rates during the evening network peak.’ 

Canadian region to save millions through biogas CHP

A project to capture waste biogas from treating sewage will cut the Region of Waterloo in Canada’s electricity bills by millions of dollars and reduce greenhouse gases.

The project, in the state of Ontario, will use the biogas that’s produced at the region’s three largest sewage treatment plants to generate electricity and heat the buildings. Some of that gas is now used as part of the sewage treatment process, while the rest is burned off.

The Record website reports that by mid-2020 it will produce about 12,000 megawatt-hours of electricity every year, which is the amount of electricity used by 1,200 houses per year.
The largest plant, at 368 Mill Park Dr. in Kitchener, will see its power bills cut by 60 per cent, while bills at the other two plants, 230 Water St. S. in Cambridge and 340 University Ave. E. in Waterloo are expected to decrease by 40 per cent.

This project is expected to save the region almost $17 million in electricity bills over the next 20 years, and is expected to pay for itself in about nine years, Law said.

The three biogas cogeneration plants combined would reduce emissions by about 550 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, equivalent to taking around 115 cars off the road.


Australian museum upgrade to incorporate CHP

Museums Victoria has begun a program, in accordance with the Australian government’s Greener Government Buildings policy, that aims to increase the performance of six sites through equipment retrofits.

Combined heat and power technology is set to play a vital role in the organisation’s efficiency ambitions, according to Sourceable online.

Melbourne Museum, the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building, Scienceworks, the Immigration Museum, and the Simcock Avenue storage facilities are being retrofitted to improve their performance.

Museums Victoria is working with engineering firm Siemens to implement new technology in the buildings that will reduce electricity costs by 32 per cent, enough to power 1264 homes. The upgrade will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent, equivalent to eliminating 6,000 cars.

"Museums Victoria, together with the Victorian Government and Siemens, is now making a significant contribution to energy efficiency and environmental sustainability for future generations,’ said Lynley Marshall, CEO of Museums Victoria.

Components of the project address efficiencies in lighting, water, HVAC, electric power, and building management. Siemens estimates that these measures will prevent the release of 4,590 tons of carbon dioxide over the life of the contract. The $11 million project is being financed through an energy performance contract with a payback period of under seven years.

Along with lighting improvements and new HVAC systems overall electricity usage will be reduced by installing a cogeneration system that includes a reciprocating natural gas engine that will provide the bulk of the power and heating needs of the Melbourne Museum. This unit will account for most of the reduction in CO2 emissions, and will also decrease dependency on Victoria’s coal-fired stations in the Latrobe Valley.

Another tool from Siemens is a cloud-based system that captures data for use by engineers to monitor building performance and look for both degradation in performance and opportunities for improvement


Museum trigen scheme celebrates $14m in savings

US art museum celebrates CHP milestone


Hygiene products to provide heat and power

A new system is being developed to turn hygiene products into energy.

Bioenergy Insight reports that feminine hygiene products, incontinence pads and millions of nappies currently sent to landfill by commercial organisations and public bodies could now be turned into clean energy by a new mechanical process called Lifecycle.

PHS Group, who have spent millions of pounds developing the new process, say the breakthrough ends a decade-long pursuit to efficiently recycle hygiene waste, which can take up to 500 years to decompose.

Businesses that send hygiene waste products to landfill face increasingly high costs for doing so because of rising landfill tax and processing costs associated with hitting UK environmental targets and dwindling landfill capacity.

The Lifecycle process combines mechanical separation with chemical treatment and converts highly absorbent hygiene products into refused derived fuel (RDF), which is then supplied to the alternative energy market both in the UK and in Europe.

RDF is typically burned in biomass plants to produce electricity and hot water either for municipal power systems, the National Grid or individual companies.

Justin Tydeman, CEO of PHS Group, said: “Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue. We have spent almost a decade refining the LifeCycle process and we now have a viable option for diverting hygiene waste products away from landfill.”

Fortum in JV to build Lithuanian CHP plant

Fortum is to start construction on a Lithuanian energy-from-waste plant in the autumn.

The Finland-based energy group announced that a joint venture, called Kauno Kogeneracine Jegaine (KKJ), has been formed to build the combined heat and power (CHP) plant.

The €160 million project, based in Kaunas, will have electricity generation capacity of 24 MW and thermal capacity of about 70MW.

The joint venture is between state-owned Lietuvos Energija and Fortum, whose formation was announced in October 2015. Lietuvos Energija has a 51% share, while Fortum Heat Lietuva owns 49%.

Fortum will commit €27 million directly to the project and commissioning is expected in the middle of 2020.

European Investment Bank may back French CHP project

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is assessing a loan of $21.5m to a 10-MW biomass and waste gasification project in France.

The facility in Thouars will be producing combined heat and power using plasma torch technology developed by CHO Power, a unit of French clean technologies and renewable energy group Europlasma.

The total investment in the combined heat and power project amounts to EUR55 million for the development, installation, operation and maintenance of the plant.

The EIB is a prolific investor in low carbon initiatives. In 2015 the bank issued a new €600 million green bond. The transaction took the total investment in the Climate Awareness Bond (CAB) to €10 billion (£7.3bn).

CABs provide investors with the opportunity to invest in projects contributing to climate action.

Biomass under fire from environmental groups

Environmental groups this week urged the United Nations to consider the ‘serious negative impacts’ of using biomass for energy.
In a letter sent to the director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 43 groups including Birdlife Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, the International Tree Foundation and the Global Forest Coalition said the growing use of bioenergy has impacted negatively on ‘the environment, local communities, people’s health, the climate and, of course, our forests’.
The letter added that using biomass for energy production as part of a climate change mitigation strategy ‘is based on flawed science’ and ‘can create more problems than solutions’.  
Tuesday has been designated as the International Day of Forests 2017.
The groups urged the FAO to stop endorsing and promoting large-scale biomass use for energy; stop presenting woody biomass as carbon-neutral and sustainable; support resource-efficient use of wood and a hierarchy of wood uses, ‘which can contribute to mid- and long-term carbon storage’, and refocus its energies on forest conservation, regeneration and restoration.
Jean-Marc Jossart, General Secretary of European biomass trade group Aebiom, responded to the letter with a statement, saying there were ‘plenty of good reasons to focus the 2017 International Day of Forests on bioenergy’.
‘In Europe, where bioenergy represents more than 60% of the total consumption of renewables, wood for energy provides almost half a million jobs and helps to ensure energy security, rural development and innovation,’ he said. ‘Bioenergy also provides a valuable source of income for forest owners, encouraging proper forest management. Even more importantly, bioenergy offers a concrete alternative to fossil fuels and is therefore key to decarbonizing our economy, as a recent letter from the International Energy Agency, signed by 125 scientists, confirms.’ 
Jossart added that ‘intentionally misleading representations of bioenergy’ would ‘only reinforce the position of fossil fuels for the decade to come.’  

Ford focuses on cogeneration to help produce new car

The Ford Motor Company is pumping $645m investment into one of its German manufacturing plants, aimed at building the next generation of Ford Focus models.

The Saarlouis investment will pay for “state-of-the-art production equipment, logistical support, and energy supply projects” at the plant, according to Ford website.

The investment covers the deployment of five new cogeneration units from STEAG New Energies, which produce both electricity and heat for the facility with an overall CO2 reduction of 20 per cent expected.
“This €600 million investment reconfirms Ford’s continuing commitment to Germany, our main center of operations in Europe,” says Ford Europe President and CEO Jim Farley.

Google's big data calculates US rooftop solar potential

In an application of big-data capabilities to the decentralized energy sector, a project by Google has found that almost 80% of rooftops in the US are suitable for solar systems.
Since its inception in 2015, the company’s Project Sunroof has analyzed around 60 million buildings in all 50 US states, determining overall that 79% have enough unshaded area to install photovoltaic (PV) panels.
In sunnier states such as Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, the analysis found that over 90% of rooftops could support PV, while rooftops in more northerly states such as Pennsylvania, Maine and Minnesota are only around 60% suitable.  
Among cities, Houston in Texas has the most solar potential, with an estimated 18,940 GWh of rooftop solar generation potential per year. Other sunny cities such as Los Angeles in California, Phoenix in Arizona and San Antonio in Texas follow in the rankings, with northern and often snow-bound (yet roof-plentiful) New York City in fifth place.
Google said the Project Sunroof tool uses imagery from its Google Maps and Google Earth in combination with 3D modelling and machine learning. For every building included in the data, Project Sunroof calculates the amount of sunlight received by each portion of its roof over the course of a year, taking into account weather patterns, the sun’s position in the sky at different times of the year, and shade from trees and tall buildings. This estimated sunlight is translated into energy production using industry standard models for solar installation performance.
According to Google, if the top 10 cities reached their full rooftop solar potential, they could produce enough energy to power eight million homes across the US.

Ikea moves closer to energy independence with biogas on-site power

Ikea continues to grow its U.S. renewable energy portfolio, with a goal of being energy independent by 2020.

The retailer has completed installation of its fifth biogas-powered fuel cell system in California, at its East Palo Alto location in the San Francisco Bay area.

With this fuel cell system installed, commissioned and operational, Ikea is on track to generate 1.5 MW in total of energy via fuel cells, supplementing onsite solar arrays atop all these stores.

“Plugging-in this fuel cell system is an exciting milestone that complements our existing rooftop solar array,” said Monica Varela, store manager. “Utilizing fuel cells will reduce our carbon footprint and help create an even more sustainable community here in the Bay Area.”
Slightly larger than the physical size of a commercial back-up generator, the 300-kw, biogas-powered project will produce approximately 2,630,452 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 1,193 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equal to the emissions of 252 cars or to providing electricity for 176 homes yearly. 

Combined with the 302-kW solar array installed atop the store in 2011, the fuel cell project will help generate a majority of the store’s energy onsite.

For the design, development and installation of this fuel cell system, Ikea contracted Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy, a provider of solid oxide fuel cell technology generating clean, highly-efficient on-site power.