Advanced Energy Perspectives

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Offshore Wind Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Feb 25, 2015 5:39:31 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.

Offshore_Wind_Power

Offshore wind turbines are located on bodies of water where there is access to stronger wind resources than are typically available on land. These turbines convert the kinetic energy of the wind to electricity with no greenhouse gas emissions. Generally, these turbines are fixed directly to the sea floor, though technologies are being developed to mount turbines on floating platforms, which will enable deployment in deeper water or farther offshore. In general, because of the higher expense of foundations and installation compared to land-based wind turbines, offshore turbines are sized larger (3 MW to 5 MW, with even larger units in development), which enables greater output per turbine.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Onshore Wind Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Feb 18, 2015 5:20:08 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.

Onshore_Wind_Power

Wind is a free and abundant fuel source. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in wind into electricity. Turbines range in size from under 1 kW for off-grid or residential applications, to 8 MW for the largest units in development for offshore applications.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Utility-Scale Solar Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Feb 3, 2015 3:25:00 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.

Utility_scale_solar_power-028751-edited

There are several technology options for utility-scale solar power systems, although photovoltaic (PV) panels are the most commonly used. Most utility-scale solar farms consist of large arrays of ground-mounted flat-plate PV modules, which convert sunlight directly into electricity via solar cells. The arrays can be fixed-tilt, single-axis tracking, or dual-axis tracking. Tracking adds cost but increases overall energy output. Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology uses lenses to concentrate sunlight onto small PV cells to achieve higher overall conversion efficiencies than flat-plate technology. A minority of utility-scale solar projects use concentrated solar power (CSP) systems, which concentrate sunlight using mirrors or lenses to generate high temperatures that are used to produce high-pressure steam that drives an electricity-generating steam turbine-generator set. Utility-scale PV and CPV plants typically range in size from 1 MW to well over 100 MW, while CSP is generally in the 100s of MW. Peak solar output (midday to late afternoon) also typically coincides with times of peak electric demand, relieving the need for peak generation resources.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

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.

Distributed_Solar_Power-781012-edited

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

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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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