Advanced Energy Perspectives

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Residential and Commercial Building Solar Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Jan 27, 2015 12:01:08 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.

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Solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems convert sunlight directly into electricity. PV modules (panels) produce direct current, which is converted to grid-compatible alternating current through an inverter. The flat-plate PV modules are commonly mounted on the roofs of residential and commercial buildings. The two main PV materials used in modules are crystalline silicon and thin-films such as cadmium telluride. The former is more commonly used for residential and commercial buildings due to its higher efficiency and associated smaller footprint, which is a desirable characteristic for rooftop applications.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Modular Nuclear Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Jan 20, 2015 11:55:00 AM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.

NuScale_Power_Module_Cutaway-769945-editedSmall modular reactors (SMRs) are small-footprint nuclear power plants that can be sized between 10 MW and 300 MW, like the schematic from NuScale (left). There are numerous SMR plant designs, though SMRs all rely on the same nuclear fission technology of larger plants. Nuclear fission releases heat in the reactor core to produce steam, which spins a turbine attached to a generator that produces electricity. Unlike utility-scale plants that can take years to construct, SMRs can be assembled offsite and delivered fully constructed. SMRs are smaller, simpler, and can be sited in more places than utility-scale nuclear plants, including submarines, which have been powered by a type of SMR for decades. SMRs generally have their reactors buried in the ground, away from weather hazards. They often use passive cooling systems that are not vulnerable to power outages, increasing the safety of the plant

While no SMRs are operating on the grid in the U.S. or elsewhere as of yet, the DOE believes there will be a substantial domestic and international market once products are developed. DOE is presently working with several companies, including mPower America and NuScale Power, to develop, test, and deploy different types of SMRs. DOE is assisting in design certification, site characterization, licensing, and engineering activities, aiding companies that are targeting SMR commercial operation in the next decade.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Utility-scale Nuclear Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Jan 13, 2015 3:25:33 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.

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Nuclear power plants in operation today rely on nuclear fission (the splitting of heavy atomic nuclei) to produce electricity. Fission releases heat in the reactor core to generate steam, which then spins a turbine attached to a generator that produces electricity. Nuclear power, a zero-carbon emission technology, is typically used for generating baseload electricity, as it is a technology that is not easy to start and stop or cycle up and down. Newer technologies (known as Generation III or III+) offer greater reliability and extensive safety features, as well as higher efficiency, with capacity factors above 80%.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Marine Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Jan 6, 2015 1:43:18 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.

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Marine power technologies generate electricity from the kinetic energy contained in moving water, including waves, currents, and tides. Wave power works by harnessing the fluctuations in wave height to generate electricity, for example, with a buoy tethered to the sea floor. As the buoy moves up and down with the waves the relative motion between it and the part that is fixed to the sea floor can be captured to drive a generator.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Hydroelectric Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Dec 23, 2014 12:51:54 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.

Hydroelectric_Power_Plants

A hydroelectric power plant uses turbines and generators to convert the kinetic energy of moving water into electricity. There are three major types of hydroelectric power plants: impoundment, diversion (run-of-river), and pumped storage facilities. An impoundment facility uses a dam to store river water in a reservoir, which it then releases through a turbine to generate electricity. The height differential (“hydraulic head”) between the reservoir surface and the turbine outlet is what provides the energy for power generation. The Hoover Dam is a classic example. A diversion facility takes advantage of natural elevation changes along a river. Run-of-river plants tend to be smaller than impoundment plants, and low-impact, with diverted streams powering turbines before returning downstream. Niagara Falls is an exception, with the Moses Niagara Power Plant and the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant together supplying 2.4 GW of hydro capacity. A pumped storage facility pumps water from a lower to an upper reservoir when electricity demand is low and releases the water back into the lower reservoir to generate electricity when demand is high. It is a form of bulk energy storage. In addition to these three major hydro variants, there is a niche application called in-conduit hydropower. Conduit projects use water supply infrastructure such as tunnels, irrigation canals, and pipelines and outfit them with mini turbines and generating equipment.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

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Advanced Energy Perspectives is AEE's blog presenting news, analysis, and commentary on creating an advanced energy economy. Join the conversation!

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