Energy – June 11

June 11, 2012

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.

Germany Meets Half Its Energy Demand From Solar, Briefly

Dave Levitan, IEEE Spectrum
Solar power plants in Germany peaked at 22 gigawatts of output for a few hours on Friday and Saturday, yielding almost half the country’s energy needs from the renewable resource and setting a new record in the process. The not-particularly-sunny country has long been a leader in solar power thanks to favorable policies like feed-in tariffs. In the wake of the decision to shutter all of its nuclear plants, solar power will need to play an even bigger role in the future. That 22 gigawatts of output is equal to about 20 nuclear reactors.

“Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity,” said Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster, according to Reuters. And some think that Monday will have been even better: because it is a holiday in Germany and most workplaces are closed, there is the possibility that all of Germany’s power needs will be supplied by the sun, at least for a couple of hours.

This would of course be the first time that a country of that size, with large power demands, could produce enough renewable energy to actually run the whole ship. But it is not the first time for any country — Denmark, among the world leaders in wind energy, sometimes does produce more energy from turbines than the country can use. And on a more localized level, even parts of the U.S. see similar effects: in 2010 I spoke with a representative from PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission operator, who said that there are times of day when demand is low and the wind blows strongly when the price of electricity can actually go negative. In other words, supply exceeds demand.
(29 May 2012)
Suggested by Dexter G.

The new new hydropower: Small-scale turbines have big potential

John Upton, Grist
Canals are ecologically barren channels built for the utilitarian purpose of draining rainwater and snowmelt away from rivers and delivering it to farmers, factories, and homes. But something unusual has been lurking in an irrigation canal in rural Washington that promises to turn these concrete water conveyors into climate-friendly power plants.

A bright yellow turbine resembling a 15-foot roll of Scotch tape was dropped into the gushing waterway near Yakima, Wash., in March to generate cheap, renewable electricity while emitting no carbon.

The experimental hydrokinetic turbine is an archetype of an emerging technology that could quickly become commonplace in the canals that crisscross great swaths of continents.
(4 June 2012)
Suggested by EB contributor Luane Todd.

Efficiency and Conservation Not Enough to Achieve Energy Security

David Kerner and Scott Thomas, National Defense
The Defense Department currently deals with changing energy circumstances by reducing demand through efficiency and conservation, and by attempting to improve supplies.

While this approach may optimize the use of those resources, it overlooks the many other energy-related challenges that the military must cope with and still accomplish the mission. The current strategy leaves the U.S. military highly vulnerable to supply challenges that are beyond its control.

The fault lies, perhaps, in the department’s definition of energy security: “Having assured access to reliable supplies of energy and the ability to protect and deliver sufficient energy to meet operational needs.”

For war fighting, the Defense Department pursues this through a small set of operational energy goals: Ensuring the availability of resources, pursuing efficiency measures and implementing conservation programs. But while these key elements provide the operational energy strategy with critical pillars, they are insufficient, simply because the government cannot always guarantee access to reliable supplies of energy.

The current goals neglect to address how the mission still gets accomplished without enough energy resources. And the same concern applies to defense installations.

To ensure mission sustainability, the military must understand the full range of potential vulnerabilities to energy shortages and disruptions and prepare to handle circumstances where supplies are not assured. So while the current energy security goals are important, true energy security must include understanding and addressing all vulnerabilities.
(June 2012)

Energy now hitting pop charts

Muse, YouTube
Muse – The 2nd Law – Album Trailer

(X June 2012)
Music based on the second law of thermodynamics apparently. -ML

Tags: Electricity, Energy Policy, Geopolitics & Military, Hydropower, Photovoltaic, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy