Wind, Sun And Water: An Old Source Of Renewable Energy Finds Its Place In The Sun

The bulk of the electricity generated in the United States still comes from fossil fuels, but the times are changing. In April this year, the country generated more power from renewable sources than from coal for the first time ever.

Amid the excitement over rocketing solar and wind power production, it is easy to forget the quiet, reliable stalwart in the renewables pack: hydropower. The country’s hydropower plants have generated 250-300 terawatt-hours of carbon-free power for the country every year over .

But the numbers do not tell the whole story, because the country’s hydropower plants are adjusting to a whole new way of working. They are no longer switched on all day and night, churning out baseload power. Instead, hydropower plants are learning to join and depart the grid at the whim of the elements, which places new demands on the facilities in terms of flexibility, reliability and sustainability. The U.S. also has some of the world’s oldest hydropower plants, which means that modernization has become a priority.

One man who relishes the challenge is Pierre Marx, the general manager for GE Renewable Energy’s hydropower business in North America. Marx, who is in Oregon for the , the U.S.’ largest gathering of hydro professionals, led GE Reports through the new landscape. He also explained why he needs to spend plenty of time thinking about ducks and salmon. Here’s an edited version of our conversation.

Top image: A massive pumped hydro power plant in , is using GE generators. Image credit: GE Reports. Above: Image credit: Getty Images.

GE Reports: Why do we need to be talking about hydropower now?

PM: The growth of fast-growing renewables such as wind and solar has changed hydropower from being a baseload generation to a load-following generation. Operators use to start and stop their plants once or twice per month, but they now need to do so twice per day. That is the case in the western states in the U.S., where the increasing penetration of solar and wind in California has turned hydropower facilities in Washington and Oregon into load-following generators.

GER: Load-following? What do you mean by that?

PM: OK, so let’s take California, which has a very high penetration of solar energy in its generation mix, but is also supplied by hydropower plants in Washington and Oregon. The sun rises in the morning and pushes solar power’s share of the mix up to 30%. But at sunset, you suddenly lose all of that power. Those conditions create the state’s , because the load curve looks like the profile of a duck. Hydropower needs to step up — once in the morning before the sun rises and at then again at sunset — when those solar power slumps occur. Ramping hydropower generation up and down to meet demand puts a huge strain on those assets, which challenges their reliability and flexibility. This challenge arrives against a backdrop of an  — the average age of the U.S. fleet is over 60 years — and stricter environmental regulation.

GER: So how could you deal with these duck curves?

PM: Well, hydropower  are one solution because they can provide a grid with a reserve of energy that it can call on at any time for . But we are also working to improve the management of hydropower assets with . For example, we are gathering and analyzing data about every aspect of a hydropower plant which allows us to reduce planned and unplanned outages or predict how that machine is going to operate for example.

GER:斗地主达人 Could you give an example of how gathering data helps?

PM: Let’s take the example of unplanned outages. An analysis of mountains of data about pressure, temperature or turbulence might be able to predict an unplanned outage, or tell an operator that they don’t necessarily have to stop their turbines for unneeded maintenance. In both cases, the operator minimizes downtime, winning them several more generation hours that boosts their wholesale power revenues. It’s a game changer.

GER: We hear that GE Renewable Energy has also been working on some other new features?

PM: That’s right. We’re building that prevent the injury and death of migratory fish caused by either passage through the turbines. That’s in response to U.S. regulation on hydropower plants,  98% of fish must survive the passage through a turbine.

GER: Fish-friendly turbines? How does that work?

PM: Well, when fish pass through run-of-river hydropower plants, they can get buffeted around by the turbine blades. That can stun them, leaving them vulnerable to predators, such as birds. So we are designing that reduce the blade strikes on fish that pass through the McNary Dam on the Columbia River on the Oregon-Washington border, where we are carrying out a huge modernization program after being awarded the  and have received recently the notice to proceed. The runner blades have been designed according to the shape and size of the fish, which in this case, are young salmon. The goal is to significantly boost the fish survival rate at the McNary Dam while ensuring the excellent performance and efficiency of the plant. The McNary project is a significant contract for us — because of the size and length of the contract (14 units over approximately 14 years). It highlights our proven expertise and competitiveness in the hydropower rehabilitation business and our dedication to provide environment-friendly technologies to our customers.

GER: Could you explain the dissolved oxygen problem?

PM: There are also strict rules in the U.S. about minimum dissolved oxygen levels in the water passing through a hydropower plant.  ensures a favorable habitat for fish and other aquatic life. But the water that is diverted through a hydropower plant can be hypoxic, or low in oxygen levels. That’s because the deeper you go, the less aeration there is. That deeper water is also the water that travels through the hydro turbines, meaning that there is a risk of oxygen-depleted water being released downstream, and impacting an entire river.

GER: So what’s the solution there?

PM: We are using , such as specially shaped interblade profiles that are easy to integrate into the runner blade design. That ensures that more oxygen bubbles into the water. We know that the smaller the bubbles, the better the transfer of oxygen into the water, and that’s what our technology achieves. Cube Hydro  that technology in its High Rock facility in North Carolina.

GER: And have you had good results?

PM: Yes. Early results suggest they have boosted both the efficiency of the plant and the oxygen levels of the water. The project is exceeding expectations, injecting significant levels of oxygen with just one of the three turbines using the technology. We’ve already sold the technology to one other customer and we’re getting good feedback from other customers that these initial positive results are encouraging for the Industry. It’s great news for the fish because maintaining a high level of oxygen means good living conditions for all aquatic wildlife. But it also means that our customers can operate plants that are technically efficient and environmentally friendly.

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These states are producing the most renewable energy

Where does yours rank?

Today, over half of all electricity in the United States is generated from coal and natural gas – resources that are not only finite, but also environmentally harmful when burned and often also when extracted. As a result, the use of cleaner, renewable energy sources like hydro, wind, and solar, is becoming more common….

Demand for energy has skyrocketed in recent decades in the United States, driving up total electricity production by well over 700% since 1950.

Today, over half of all electricity in the United States is generated from coal and natural gas – resources that are not only finite, but also environmentally harmful when burned and often also when extracted. As a result, the use of cleaner, renewable energy sources like hydro, wind, and solar, is becoming more common. Renewable energy accounted for 17.0% of the national energy mix in 2017, up from 8.5% a decade prior.

斗地主达人The use of renewable energy is not uniform across all states, however。 Using data from the , 24/7 Wall St。 identified the states producing the most renewable energy。 We ranked all states based on the share of total electricity production that came from renewable sources。 Renewable sources is a broad EIA classification comprising geothermal, conventional hydroelectric, solar, biomass, wind, and wood and wood-derived fuels。

斗地主达人While many Americans may be used to seeing energy use measured in kilowatt hours on their monthly bill, on an industrial scale, electricity production is measured in megawatt hours (MWh), which is equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours, or 1 million watts of electrical power used per hour. For reference, the typical American home uses about 10.8 MWh per year.

Use of renewable energy is one way to measure how environmentally friendly each states’s energy policies are, as burning fossil fuels drives up air pollution levels.  – and none of the top 10 states on this list is among them.

In only six states, over half of energy comes from renewable sources. Nationwide, and in 18 states, hydropower accounts for the largest share of renewable energy production. In another 18 states, wind produces more renewable energy than any other source. In the remaining 14 states, the largest source of renewable energy is either wood, solar, or biomass like agricultural products, food waste, and manure.

 
 In the state deriving the largest share of power from renewable sources, clean energy production has become an integral part of the overall economy. In fact, solar panel installation is more concentrated in that state than any other profession, making it the most iconic job in the state.

 is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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Namibia Announces $338 Million, 5-Year Renewable-Energy Strategy

Namibia’s state-run utility will build four plants powered by renewable energy over the next five years as the southern African nation seeks to guarantee local supplies and cut its use of fossil fuels.#renewableenergy#greenenergy #solarpanel #photovoltaic #sustainability #green

The plants, which will harness biomass, solar and wind to generate a combined 220 megawatts, will cost 4.7 billion Namibian dollars ($338 million), Managing Director Kahenge Haulofu said at the launch of the company’s business plan for 2019-2023 in the capital, Windhoek. Nampower currently imports about 60% of its needs, mostly from South Africa.

 

Construction will start later this year through 2022 and will be financed with internal resources, Haulofu said without elaborating

 

The country, which is the driest in sub-Saharan Africa and has more than 300 days of sunshine a year, “stands to benefit as the worldwide boom in the solar market results in reduced costs and improved efficiency of solar photovoltaic panels and related equipment,” Haulofu said.

 

Namibia, which is bigger than France by land area but has a population of just 2.6 million people, “has potential sites for the development of large-scale wind-power projects,” he said.

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