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Renewables - July 18

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Rwanda: Govt sets its eyes on alternative energy

Focus Media
Given the energy deficit in Rwanda as well as the rest of the East African countries—an issue which was highlighted during the recent East African investment conference—Rwanda is increasingly looking at alternative sources of energy to power the country...

...Another alternative source of energy currently being used is biogas. The national domestic biogas program (NDBP) aims to install at least 15,000 biogas digesters in rural households by 2011.

Small biogas digesters using cow-dung are already installed in several households, where they provide sufficient energy for cooking and lighting. The program is boosted by the national 'zero-grazing' policy, which requires people to keep their cattle in a pen, thus making the cow-dung available close to the household.

On top of that, the one-cow-per-family program will enable more people to actually benefit from the biogas program. So far 103 biogas digesters have been installed in households in Ruhango, Gasabo, Kamonyi, Rulindo and Gicumbi districts.

Most digesters are made from bricks and stones, but a pilot project using more efficient fiberglass digesters is currently implemented in Kirehe district, where Chinese engineers are training technicians in installing the prefabricated digesters. The technology has the added advantage that the installation takes less time.

For some time now, biogas has also been used in prisons and schools, where it is produced with waste from the latrines. Rwanda has even gained international recognition for its achievement, which has reduced the costs of cooking in prisons by 50%. It has at the same time solved the big environmental problem caused by the overflow of human waste. The government is now considering expanding this technology to more schools and hospitals.
(18 July 2008)

Utility panel sees plan adding 18,456 megawatts of energy capacity

Janet Elliott, Houston Chronicle
The land of oil and gas is staking a big chunk of its energy future on the Texas wind with Thursday's decision by utility regulators to build nearly $5 billion worth of transmission capacity.

A divided commission selected a plan that will eventually transmit 18,456 megawatts of wind power from West Texas and the Panhandle. That would be enough to power 3.7 million homes on a hot summer day, and more than 11 million in milder weather.

"It's a big bite," said Public Utility Commissioner Paul Hudson. "The transmission plan is nothing short of extraordinary in terms of scope and magnitude."...
(18 July 2008)

First tidal power turbine gets plugged in

Alok Jha, The Guardian
An underwater turbine that generates electricity from tidal streams was plugged into the UK's national grid today. It marks the first time a commercial-scale underwater turbine has fed power into the network and the start of a new source of renewable energy for the UK.

Tidal streams are seen by many as a plentiful and predictable supply of clean energy. The most conservative estimates suggest there is at least five gigawatts of power in tidal flows around the country, but there could be as much as 15GW...
(17 July 2008)

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