Jul 12, 2012

Wind to Power an Expensive Island Economy

3 min
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Over two thousand miles from the California coast rests an island of beauty—where warm blue waters and white sand attract millions of tourists each year. Needless to say, powering a tourism hot spot boasting thousands of famous hotels and restaurants puts tremendous pressure on energy demand. Not only do the small islands of Hawaii require a lot of energy, but energy that is reliable.

Each island on Hawaii currently uses diesel generators that are inherently expensive and unstable due to the high cost of imported fuel. Residents suffering the high energy bills have long dreamed of the day the limitless quantities of sunlight, wind and water that surround them could be incorporate into the grid with efficiency. Though ideal for its location, the intermittency of renewables like solar, wind and wave power make it hard to incorporate a significant portion of clean energy into the island's overall energy mix. Energy storage capabilities today, however, may offer some newfound hope where some of the country's most expensive energy exists.

Xtreme Power, a leader in energy storage solutions in remote locations, sees the situation as an opportunity. Using a system that can firm the power of wind and solar generated electricity, Xtreme Power's Dynamic Power Resource ® (DPR) System has the potential to improve capacity by as much as 70 percent.

Read more in July's issue of Energy Digital: The Future of Transportation

“Our system can provide stable voltage and frequency, the two major metrics of high quality power,” Alan Gotcher, CEO of Xtreme Power. “By doing so, we can improve the capacity of a solar or wind farm and help Hawaii and the electric companies improve quality of power on the grid, while reducing costs, blackouts and brownouts.”

Since 2006, the DPR system has been deployed in extremely remote locations, including the South Pole. Whether the wind blows or not, the system is designed to maximize renewable energy while maintaining grid stability. Intelligent controls command the DPR to rapidly charge or discharge to smooth the power delivered to the utility. Should the wind cease, the utility can command the storage system to discharge electricity onto the grid while a generator is brought online using an Automatic Generator Control (ACG).

Today, the technology is being considered for Hawaii's Big Wind project across three islands. Although wind and solar only make up a fraction of Hawaii's energy today, Gotcher believes that new technologies like the DPR system will soon help the island reach at least five times its current capacity.

“I see renewables really taking off in island economies like Hawaii,” says Gotcher. “It's quite likely that almost all of the power in Hawaii will someday be generated from renewables.”

For now, utilizing Xtreme Power's technology will save local utilities on operating costs associated with burning expensive fossil fuels, while increasing the revenues of wind farms and reducing the island's carbon footprint with a cleaner, cheaper source of electricity. It's also nice to think of Hawaii as a place where nature will always maintain its beauty, removed from the pollution clouds that hover over the cities back on the mainland. 




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Jun 25, 2021

UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC

Dominic Ellis
5 min
The UK must put an end to a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices warns the Climate Change Committee

The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.

While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.

"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."

The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.

  • Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
  • Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
  • Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
  • Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
  • Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.

In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies. 

Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”

Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society. 

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."

Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).

Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.

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