Sustainable Energy for Development: People, organizations, and projects active in environmentally benign energy sources for developing countries.
Ken Novak's Weblog
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Cane waste into electricity
: "Cogeneration from bagasse could supply 25% of power in cane-producing countries, according to a report from the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy. The overall potential share in the world’s major developing country producers exceeds 7%, but no more than 15% of this potential has yet been realized, says the report
, ‘Bagasse Cogeneration - Global Review & Potential.’ Bagasse cogeneration describes the use of fibrous sugarcane waste to cogenerate heat and electricity at high efficiency in sugar mills.
“The critical condition for the full exploitation of this major opportunity is that mill owners should be able to secure competitive rates for the electricity they supply to the grid or to other power consumers,” it explains. “Currently, these buyback rates only rarely reflect the fair value of the electricity to the system - disincentivising producers and preventing high efficiency cogeneration plants from being optimally sized to meet heat demand.”
The issue is being addressed in parts of India, where the introduction of biomass feed-in tariffs are ensuring that the external benefits of bagasse cogeneration are recognised by markets. The cost burden to India will be reduced by almost US$1 billion a year through a buyback rate of 7¢/kWh.. " The Kyoto CDM is seen as a financing mechanism for these plants. 4:19:50 PM
Monday, August 30, 2004
Global Village Energy Project
: GVEP is a partnership of UNDP, World Bank, donor governements and NGOs for sustainable rural energy development. ITDG – the Intermediate Technology Development Group – is the new host for the GVEP Technical Secretariat. The site has a useful database of documents and pointers on renewable energy work around the world. They participate in several EU programs on RE. A brief 2003 survey
of 9 related programs is online. 10:20:39 PM
Solar lanterns to light up 1,000 villages
: A product that is getting more popular in developing countries. "As many as 660.000 houses in 1,000 villages in the State will get at least one solar-powered lantern as part of a `self-village energy security programme' involving the State Government and the Union Ministry for Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES). This is part of a scheme to electrify `remote' hamlets using renewable energy.. The 1,000-village electrification project would cost Rs. 100 crores ($20 m). The MNES would provide 90 per cent of the funds and the State the rest. The project is to be facilitated by Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. (KREDL). The Managing Director of KREDL, B. Shivalingaiah, said the organisation was identifying the 1,000 villages. Villagers would initially have to pay Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 a month under the scheme, he said. " 4:36:59 PM
Technology already exists to stabilize global warming
: Article published in Science identifies portfolio of options to cut emissions now. They refer to a stabilization triangle composed of emission reduction wedges
: "Keeping emissions flat for 50 years will require trimming projected carbon output by roughly 7 billion tons per year by 2054, keeping a total of ~175 billion tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere [graphed as a triangle]. We refer to this carbon savings as the "stabilization triangle."
To keep pace with global energy needs at the same time, the world must find energy technologies that emit little to no carbon, plus develop the capacity for carbon storage. Many strategies available today can be scaled up to reduce emissions by at least 1 billion tons of carbon per year by 2054. We call this reduction a "wedge" of the triangle. By embarking on several of these wedge strategies now, the world can take a big bite out of the carbon problem instead of passing the whole job on to future generations. " 4:28:43 PM
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Economist on Prahalad
: Good short review. "To be profitable, firms cannot simply edge down market fine-tuning the products they already sell to rich customers. Instead, they must thoroughly re-engineer products to reflect the very different economics of BOP [the bottom of the pyramid]: small unit packages, low margin per unit, high volume. Big business needs to swap its usual incremental approach for an entrepreneurial mindset, because BOP markets need to be built not simply entered. Products will have to be made available in affordable units -- most sales of shampoo in India, for example, are of single sachets. Distribution networks may need to be rethought, not least to involve entrepreneurs from among the poor. Customers may need to be educated in how to consume, and even why -- about credit, say, or even about the benefits of washed hands. The corruption now widespread in poor countries must be tackled (about which Mr Prahalad has penned a particularly useful chapter). " 2:36:42 PM
Saturday, August 14, 2004
Tidal Flow To Power New York City
: Excellent summary of tidal flow power from Roland Piquepaille. The lead story is about a NY installation: "Verdant Power, an energy company based in Arlington, Virginia, plans to plunge six electricity turbines into the East River. If the $4.5-million project is successful, the generators will form the first farm of tide-powered turbines in the world. The plan is to attach the machines, which look like small wind turbines, to concrete piles hammered into the bedrock nine metres below the river's surface. As the tide surges in and out, the heads pivot to face the current and the blades spin." 11:44:59 PM
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
World Bank rejects reforms in extractive industries: "The World Bank group rejected moves towards phasing out investment in oil and coal mining, as recommended by its own extractive industries review, this week, despite releasing a statement saying that it "broadly agreed that it [the review] represented a balanced way forward for the Bank Group." .. The Bank is also seeking to scale up its activities in the renewable energy sector by 20% annually over the next five years, bringing investment to more than US$400 million per year. This target will also be reviewed on a regular basis. It compares to an estimated annual investment of US$3 billion in fossil fuels. " The World Wildlife Fund and others criticized the move. "WWF says the Bank is missing “a historic opportunity to show real leadership and help guide the developing world towards a truly sustainable and clean energy future.” It wants the Bank to allocate at least $800 million of its $3 billion annual energy budget to renewables and energy efficiency, and to increase that level by 20% a year over the next five years. " The WB spin (World Bank Accepts New Oil, Gas Lending Controls) emphasises the changes in banking rules they are adopting, which basically require more reporting on where the money goes. Full text of EIR and supporting documents are online. 12:06:38 PM
Low-income villages get renewables in the Philippines: Interesting model for low income energy projects, incorporating lessons from earlier efforts. "Eight off-grid villages in the Negros Occidental region of the central Philippines will benefit from a grant of US$1.5 million to install renewable energy systems. The ADB (Asian Development Bank) will provide the money from its Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, which is financed by the Japanese government. The project is the sixth JFPR project in the Philippines, which have included urban development projects for slum communities in Manila to livelihood projects for the rural poor in Mindanao.
This community-based project will set up solar, wind, biomass and micro hydro systems for 2,480 residents who depend on kerosene, batteries and candles for energy. One-third of the villagers live below the regional poverty threshold of 27¢ per day, and the project was approved because of its creation of livelihood opportunities.. To mobilize the participating communities, sitios or barangays will be organized into power associations and a funds collection mechanism will be set up to operate and maintain the renewable energy systems.
A revolving fund will be established so lighting, tools and equipment can be installed and homes can connect to the green power systems. A second revolving fund will promote activities which consume the power, such as community-owned rice mills to increase rice production, ice plants for cold storage of fish products, purchase of small power tools and sewing machines for home-based work, and skills development and on-site training. After the four-year assistance period ends, the project will be turned over to the communities to take responsibility for operating and maintaining the renewable energy systems ..
JFPR was launched in 2000 with an initial contribution of $90 million, followed by another contribution of $155 million and a commitment of $50 million. The fund supports projects that target the poor and take innovative approaches." 11:20:50 AM
Identifying Environmentally Preferable uses for Biomass Resources: A study of North American biomass resources and their comparative effects on greenhouse emissions. Recommendations:
- If biomass is specifically grown to produce energy, avoid using low-yielding energy crops. Wheat, canola, or corn should not be used as energy crops, as they require considerable energy inputs in the form of fertilizer etc., take up prime farmland, and deliver small yields per hectare. Switchgrass or wood from short-rotation forestry (e.g., poplar or willow) should be used to produce energy.
- Use biomass waste and energy crops where they displace fuels with high carbon
content. Combined heat and power, or the production of either biofuels or hydrogen are preferred over electricity-only options, since electricity production will usually replace relatively efficient natural gas burning.
- Landfilling and incineration are the best options to minimize GHG emissions from municipal solid waste. While landfilling with efficient gas collection is slightly preferred over incineration. Composting is not recommended due to the considerable methane emissions from pockets of anaerobic activity.
- Do not produce biodiesel from virgin vegetable oils. Available land can be used more efficiently by growing other crops for energy purposes. However, waste oil and fat should be used to make either biodiesel, or a diesel additive.
- If the ultimate goal is to displace a maximum quantity of fossil fuels, combined heat and power systems are the preferable biomass use option.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Intelligent Energy Demonstrates Fuel Cell for Rural Electrification in Latin America: "Intelligent Energy Inc. says it has completed trials of its ethanol-based fuel cell technology system, showing that sufficient electricity can be generated for a rural home from equipment little larger than a shoebox, using fuel derived from sugar cane. ..
Intelligent Energy is engaged in a partner program in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico which is focused on providing rural and urban electricity solutions. Dr. Eduardo Torres Serra of CEPEL, Brazil's premier energy research laboratory, which is currently engaged in research aimed at rural and peri-urban electrification, witnessed the operation of Intelligent Energy's fully integrated ethanol-in to electricity-out system. He commented: "The Intelligent Energy system is at the cutting edge of technology, it is very compact and extremely impressive."
Making the announcement today, Intelligent Energy's Chairman, former Chairman of Shell, Sir John Jennings, said: "This successful demonstration is an important part of our expanding strategy to accelerate market acceptance of fuel cell technology as an alternative power source. " The company has interesting people from the conventional energy business, and materials that emphasize developing countries. They appear to proceed by acquisition of companies with promising technology, from fuel source to power output. 10:47:40 PM
Jatropha plant yields biodiesel: "DaimlerChrysler is launching a new public-private joint enterprise in India for the production of environment-friendly biodiesel that can be used to power Mercedes vehicles. .. The project is setting out to test the production of biodiesel from Jatropha plants on eroded ground and its preparation for subsequent use in internal combustion engines.
With the establishment of this plantation, wind erosion will be alleviated and the roots of the plants will help reduce water erosion. The biscuits created as a byproduct of the oil extraction make an excellent organic fertilizer that helps improve the quality of the soil. It is envisaged that the plantations will later be operated by the municipal authorities.
Jatropha biodiesel is characterized by particularly favorable ignition performance. It also contains no sulfur and is thus a clean, low-emission fuel. .. Jatropha grows wild in many areas of India and even thrives on infertile soil. A good crop can be obtained with little effort. "
The Austrian Biofuels Institute provided a note on a field test of the fuel in 2004, with some into on its development since 1996. 9:54:27 PM
New Solar Tent Prototypes for US Army (June 16, 2004)
: "Iowa Thin Film Technologies, Inc., has completed the development of integrated solar technology for three Army tent prototypes. The tents integrate the company's PowerFilm® flexible solar panels directly with the tent fabric. Iowa Thin Film Technologies says that it is the only company in the world that has developed this fabric integration solar technology." Could be equally useful during disasters or in refugee camps. 9:47:55 PM
Friday, August 06, 2004
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Sustainable Resources: "An International Forum Connecting People with Hands-on Solutions to World Poverty." Boulder CO, Sept 30 - Oct 2, 2004 (plus pre- and post-conference workshops). Keynotes by John Todd, A.T. Ariyaratne, William McDonough.
Unfortunately, it overlaps with Engineers for a Sustainable World - 2004 National Conference, Stanford CA, Sept 30-October 2, 2004. Keynotes by William McDonough (busy guy!), and Jeffrey Sachs. 12:27:22 PM