Wave Energy – A new way of generating power from tides

The search for alternative energy sources in the age of climate change has overlooked tidal energy: a vast and unexploited worldwide resource.

For three decades now, tidal lagoon schemes have been recommended as an economically and environmentally attractive alternative to tidal barrages. More recently, two proposals for tidal lagoons in Swansea Bay, Wales have emerged and there have been several reports documenting how such a project there could have the potential to harness significant energy resources.

Tidal/wave energy involves constructing a barrage, a dam or some other sort of barrier to harvest power from the height difference between high and low tides.

The power is generated by running the water through turbines, found within the barrier. The technology used is very similar to that found in hydropower schemes, however unlike rivers tidal currents run in two directions.

Where a tidal barrage blocks off an entire estuary, a tidal lagoon instead impounds an artificially created area of the sea or estuary. A lagoon doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to the shore – it could even sit out in the ocean.

As the tide goes out the lagoon remains closed, and full. It then opens the flood gates to let the water out until water levels on each side of the lagoon wall are even. When the tide comes in the process is reversed.

wave-energy--tide-power

 

It’s tough to estimate exactly how much tidal power can be exploited, but the UK may have close to half of Europe’s total. And few potential sites worldwide are as close to electricity users and the transmission grid as those in the UK.

Why Swansea?

Swansea Bay is located in the Bristol Channel on the South Wales coastline. As part of the Severn Estuary it experiences one of the world’s largest tidal ranges, often reaching 10m.

A tidal lagoon has been mooted in the bay before, back in 2004, but the latest proposals are on a grander scale. The structure shown below would cover 11.5 km2, cost £913m to construct, and would be capable of generating 495 GWh per year – enough energy to power 155,000 homes.

Rising tides

The Swansea Bay scheme demonstrates a renewed interest in tidal power, which has many advantages compared to other renewable sources. It is well documented that increasing integration of volatile, unpredictable sources of renewable energy such as wind and solar power jeopardises the stability of the power grid.

In order for the grid to remain stable the power generated at any instance has to match demand, therefore it is important that the transmission network contains power sources that are immediately available. While the sun may stop shining, and the wind can drop, the tides remain predictable – an obvious advantage for tidal power and a great help for National Grid forecasters.

Overcoming barriers

Yet improvements are still needed. The upfront costs remain high, and there are some ecological implications. Experiences with artificially closed compounds have demonstrated that the costs of managing an artificial tidal basin (for example in the case of La Rance, Brittany, and Cardiff Bay), Wales are high and need careful monitoring and planning.

Turbines can become more efficient, perhaps learning from the wind industry about aspects such as varying the speed of turbines. We need to develop better 3D modelling to get a better sense of how the tides ebb and flow, and how turbines perform under turbulence.

But there are important positives that should lead to more tidal power. The re-opening of dams and barriers, often built between the 1950s and 1970s can have great ecological benefits for the water bodies behind them due to a creation of a gradient that is beneficial to aquatic ecology (brackish water) and an increased oxygen content; in such instances, tidal technology can also be used as a tool for water quantity management, while generating power.

They can actually improve some ecosystems and have additional societal benefits besides renewable energy such as flood defense, environmental and ecological water quality improvement, fisheries and even tourism functions.

New technologies are being developed that would allow energy to be harvested from new areas, where the difference between high and low tides are measured in centimetres rather than metres. All this make an investment in a tidal lagoon for Swansea Bay seem like a strong investment in the future.

The ConversationThis article is published in collaboration with The Conversation

Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

Author: George Aggidis is a Director of Lancaster University Renewable Energy Group & Fluid Machinery Group at Lancaster University.

Ref: Weforum

Gigafactory – How Tesla’s battery could change everything

Serial entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is no stranger to making waves in the technology sector.

Earlier this year he decided to allow anyone to, “in good faith,” make use of the automaker’s patent portfolio without fear of being named in a patent lawsuit. The goal, he wrote in a blog entry on Tesla’s website, was to entice other automakers to enter the electric vehicle (“EV”) market by allowing them to leverage Tesla’s technology as a platform on which to build new EVs.

Understanding that it was “impossible for Tesla to build cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis,” this patent policy shift was put forth in an effort to quicken the percentage growth of EVs in the 2 billion strong global automobile fleet, currently dominated by internal combustion engine (“ICE”) vehicles.

Despite the fact that the company is bucking the conventional wisdom that patents are to be held onto by manufacturers and leveraged for license fees and exclusivity, yesterday’s second quarter earnings call showed shareholders that the manufacturer’s future lies not in patents, but in its ability to build powerful partnerships and scale.

Tesla’s current progress is providing significant disruption in the sport-luxury space. As this Head 2 Head episode shows (starting at the 1:20 mark), the Model S is selling units in excess of European competition. But this week the mission to expand the role of EVs in the global marketplace took another important step.

Tesla announced it is cooperating with Japanese industrial giant Panasonic to development a new, US-based battery production facility. Dubbed the Gigafactory, the facility will be able to produce batteries for as many as 500,000 EVs per year by the year 2020. The scale of the production is projected to be so large, in fact, that by 2020 the Gigafactory alone would produce as much battery capacity as the entire world produced in 2013.

To be sure, the impact of the Gigafactory will positively affect electric auto sales. The Gigafactory’s scale and capacity may be felt across the technology and energy sectors as well.

Background

Panasonic has long been a partner of Tesla Motors, having supplied the automaker with the lithium-ion batteries that Tesla used in both its inaugural vehicle, the Roadster, as well as the current Model S sedan and the upcoming Model X crossover SUV. By eschewing the creation of their own proprietary battery technology and making use of existing infrastructure, Tesla was able to cut significant costs from the most expensive part of any high-performance electric vehicle: the battery.The planned Gigafactory is a key strategic step in carrying out Tesla’s long-term mission to deliver lower-cost EVs to consumers around the world.

 

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The economies of scale that the Gigafactory is designed to deliver will mean that by 2017 new battery packs will cost as much as 30% less than current Model S batteries (PDF). These upcoming Generation III battery packs will contain more power capacity than Tesla’s current fare, a key factor to the success of Tesla’s long awaited Blue Star project.

The Blue Star project is Tesla’s long-proposed, low-cost automobile model (recently dubbed the Tesla Model III), and is set to debut alongside the Generation III batteries in 2017. The 200-mile range EV’s base configuration will retail for about $35,000 — nearly 40% less than the cost of the $57,000 base price of the current Tesla Model S.

While battery production and capacity has grown worldwide over the last decade, Tesla notes that nearly all of that growth has been in Asia. In contrast to that trend, the joint collaboration between Panasonic and Tesla will take place at a facility in the American West, likely near Reno, NV and less than four hours’ drive from the Fremont plant where Tesla’s autos are assembled. Without having to ship batteries from Asia, this close proximity will lead to additional cost savings through considerably lower Model S and Model X production times.

The specifications for the Gigafactory have been published.  As reported earlier, Tesla will provide the facilities, human resources, and materials for the site, while Panasonic will invest between $200 and $300 million and focus on manufacturing techniques. Panasonic’s efforts will take up about one half of the Gigafactory facility, while the other half will be allocated to suppliers who turn raw battery cells into the finished battery modules, ready to be installed in Tesla’s vehicles, according to the press release.

In keeping with Musk’s environmentally sustainable reputation, the facility, which will sit on 500 to 1,000 acres, will not only recycle older battery packs but will also be powered by “new local renewables,” namely wind turbines and photovoltaic panels. Musk is also the Chairman of Solar City, which iscurrently ranked second among the top 250 solar contractors of 2013. This relationship would presumably add to the cost savings on the acquisition, installation, and maintenance of the solar piece of the renewable energy system meant to service the Gigafactory.

Demand for the batteries will go beyond Tesla’s own customers. Jonathan Ward, founder of LA-basedIcon, a specialty auto manufacturer and modification shop, has indicated interest in using not only Tesla’s patents but also the very platform of the Model S to build a vehicle he’s calling the Helios.

Helios would be Icon’s “revisionist approach” to automobile manufacturing; a car that in Ward’s words, “[Fuses] vintage design with the best modern drive experience and technology.” To be clear, Icon’s Helios, which is in the earliest stages of design, is a lifestyle vehicle that takes the likes of Chrysler’s once-popular but now discontinued 1930s-style PT Cruiser to an extreme, almost aeronautical level. For those who feel that the subtle lines of Tesla’s Model S lack flare, the dramatic curves of Ward’s Helios have the potential to expand the market for Tesla’s automotive technologies.

 

​​Despite selling an impressive 95,000+ units since 2010 (in 35 countries and on four continents), Nissan, the world leader in EV sales, plans to significantly augment the look and range of the Leaf, its flagship EV in favor of a look more like Tesla’s Model S. While most automakers favor incremental changes to best-selling vehicles like the Leaf, Nissan has said that its next -generation Leaf will abandon its low-impact, hybrid-like styling in favor of something more sporty. In a move that signals direct competition with Tesla, Nissan is developing a vehicle related to the Leaf, but built under the Nissan’s upscale Infiniti marque, in order to market an EV with a performance/luxury message not unlike Tesla’s Model S and the upcoming Model III.​

While there’s currently no indication that Nissan will seek to make use of Tesla’s technologies, with over 40 percent of the Leaf’s global sales in the US market, it’s almost certainly something the company will consider. Even though Nissan is working on new batteries that allow for nearly 200 miles of range, it could instead choose to install Tesla’s similarly ranged Generation III modules into the Leafs it produces in Smyrna, TN. Tesla’s economies of scale may be able to reduce the cost of the American-born Leaf.

Technology

Today’s power-hungry mobile and laptop devices use similar lithium-ion technology to what Tesla uses in its vehicles. The challenge Tesla faces in packing more range into its vehicles is essentially the same challenge device makers like HP, Microsoft, and others face in trying to get more hours of life out of their gadgets.

As the Gigafactory’s massive scale lowers the cost of of lithium-ion batteries, Tesla becomes more and more attractive as a battery supplier to any portable device manufacturer interested in cutting costs and growing profits. Tesla’s dedication to renewable energy supplies in the production of both its batteries and its vehicles also make it an attractive supplier to Apple, which stands staunchly behind its environmental record and which also seems to consistently stretch the resources of its component vendors with every new iPhone.

Energy

Tesla and Panasonic are betting big that the demand for EVs will go up as battery prices come down and as so-called range anxiety is quelled by ever more powerful cells. Meanwhile, others are excitedly studying Tesla’s emerging energy storage capacity in a somewhat more stationary light. As intermittent energy sources (e.g. photovoltaics and wind turbines) become popular energy solutions in the US and abroad, both commercial and home users are looking for ways to store the energy generated by the sun (or wind) for cloudy (or not so breezy) days.

In conventional energy generation (fuel oil, coal, gas, or other hydrocarbons), power utilities often scale their energy resources to the demands of their consumers. This can often mean brownouts as demand spikes and utilities rush to burn more hydrocarbons to create power. When demand is lower than expected, utilities burn more hydrocarbons than are needed, and that energy goes to waste.

Tesla’s low-cost batteries could offer a cheap and powerful solution to a problem that utility analysts almost uniformly believe is currently expensive and requires significant subsidies. Aside from the wasted fuel burned, the techniques for storing energy, which can include maintaining fields of volatile molten salt, are again expensive and hardly scalable compared to the Gigafactory’s projected output. Additionally, while few utilities practice energy storage today, California has proposed a rule that will force its utilities to get into the storage business by 2024.

Bolstered by strong earnings, significant profits, and growing demand for its products, Tesla’s vision for the future of EVs has the potential to continue to transform auto while also delivering technology to help mobile and portable devices profitably scale and to help the country make significant gains in energy storage. The vision (as is the case with every vision tied to Musk) is bold. We look forward to covering the implementation.

Ref: Venturebeat

Clean Energy – IFW contends used tires for Clean Energy

IFW Recycling Corporation sees a clear opportunity in the polluted skies by introducing reusable clean energy. According to CNN, inhabitants of Beijing are “choking as smog levels hit heavy or even worse levels.” Ironically, China is simultaneously one of the world’s biggest contributors to environmental pollution and largest producers of green & clean energy technology. Unfortunately for China, most of that technology is exported.

As pollution problems continue to worsen, governments around the world are looking for any solution to solve their waste management problems. This is particularly true in countries like China that rely on coal fired plants to generate electricity. The problem of air pollution is becoming critical to the health of the population and driving investments to clean up the air, water and land.

Problem to Potential

Wikipedia states that every year, over 260 million used tires end up in landfills across the world. In addition to the space they consume in the landfill, the tires contaminate groundwater and create toxic clouds of black grime when they ignite. Some jurisdictions purposely burn the tires in an effort to generate electricity.

The problems associated with used tires have been accumulating for decades. According to Infohouse.com, over 75 percent of used tires end up in landfills every year. These tires are seen by most as an ever expanding problem, but to IFW Recycling Corporation these tires represent a clean, green and efficient source of fuel.

IFW Recycling Corporation produces usable diesel fuel by gasifying the tires, while creating zero pollution and using 100 percent of the by-product (ash, carbon black and distilled water) all with staggering revenue, cash flow and profit results. Not only does the process remove the tires from being discarded as waste, the resulting products can be used by industry.

Difficult Disposal

Tires are difficult to dispose of because they don’t easily break down to become anything useful. Tires can be recycled for use on basketball courts and new shoe products. The material recovered from disposed tires, called “crumb,” is generally only used as a low-cost mixing material. It is rarely used in large volumes.

Up to now, any effort to recover the raw constituents used to create tires has been inefficient, as more fuel is needed to recycle the tire than is used to make a new one. There has been progress in converting the refuse and using old tires as raw ingredients for new construction materials. However, the best solution may be to burn the tires and extract the residue from them.

Tires as Fuel for Clean Energy

The Environmental Protection Agency EPA, on their website, says, “The use of tire-derived fuels is a viable alternative to the use of fossil fuels.”

The report goes on to say, “Tires deliver 25 percent more energy than coal, with an emission profile of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that is about the same, making them acceptable as an industrial fuel.”

The innovators at IFW Recycling Corporation have taken this technology to another level. The company has created a way to recycle tires called Direct Slow Pyrolysis, 2nd generation DSP2™. Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen. This process breaks down the tires into its usable base materials for clean energy.

The DSP2™ process differs from other similar though inferior technologies by producing zero emissions while creating highly a marketable commodity. Furthermore, their re-engineered and fine-tuned DSP2™ process has addressed and eliminated the inefficiencies and inadequacies of other pyrolysis methods.

Tire Resources

IFW Recycling Corporation does more than just burn the tires for fuel for clean energy. The DSP2™ process breaks down the tires and creates usable diesel fuel as a byproduct of the recycling. This creates a cleaner source of fuel that can be used to power the recycling equipment or sold as a separate revenue generator.

This fuel is in addition to the ash, carbon black and distilled water that are created from the slow controlled decomposition of the used tires. The resulting products add an additional stream of revenue and power generation in addition to cleaning up the toxic mess that accumulates in landfills.

Cleaner Air

Because the new technology from IFW Recycling Corporation results in zero emissions the process is ideal for countries and cities that have air quality problems. In particular, a city such as Beijing would benefit from replacing coal fired electricity generation with green zero emission energy production.

The rise of China as an economic power has resulted in smog and pollution levels that are threatening the health of the people living in industrial cities. In Shijiazhuang the largest city in China’s Hebei province, levels of tiny particles called reached 575 parts per million, and the measure of larger particles hit 843 parts per million. Health authorities say 25 parts per million is the safe level for humans.

The disposal of tires, once a growing problem, could now be the source of clean, reusable power generation and profit. Companies like IFW Recycling Corporation are at the forefront of a whole new way of looking at green technology.

courtesy : Eximner & IFW Corporation