Thursday, May 22, 2008

StatoilHydro to build first full scale offshore floating wind turbine

StatoilHydro has decided to build the world’s first full scale floating wind turbine, Hywind, and test it over a two-year period offshore Karmøy. The The company is investing approximately 400 million NOK. Planned startup is autumn 2009.

The project combines known technology in an innovative way. A 2.3 MW wind turbine is attached to the top of a so-called Spar-buoy, a solution familiar from production platforms and offshore loading buoys.

“We have drawn on our offshore expertise from the oil and gas industry to develop wind power offshore,” says Alexandra Bech Gjørv, head of New Energy in StatoilHydro.

The rotor blades on the floating wind turbine will have a diameter of 80 metres, and the nacelle will tower some 65 metres above the sea surface. The floatation element will have a draft of some 100 metres below the sea surface, and will be moored to the seabed using three anchor points. The wind turbine can be located in waters with depths ranging from 120 to 700 metres.

“Taking wind turbines to sea presents new opportunities. The wind is stronger and more consistent, areas are large and the challenges we are familiar with from onshore projects are fewer,” says Alexandra Bech Gjørv.

Contracts signed
The pilot project will be assembled in Åmøyfjorden near Stavanger and is to be located some 10 kilometres offshore Karmøy in the county of Rogaland. The wind turbine itself is to be built by Siemens. Technip will build the floatation element and have responsibility for the installation offshore. Nexans will lay cables to shore, and Haugaland Kraft will be responsible for the landfall. Enova is supporting the project with 59 million NOK.

StatoilHydro is allocating in excess of 400 million NOK to building and developing the pilot, as well as research and development of the wind turbine concept. The goal of the pilot is to reduce costs so that floating wind power can compete in the power market.

“Floating wind power is not mature technology yet, and the road to commercialization and large scale development is long. An important aspect of the project is therefore research and development,” says Alexandra Bech Gjørv.

The company has entered into a technology development agreement with Siemens for the project. The wind turbines must function optimally even in large waves.

Need for further R&D
“The wind turbines must work satisfactorily even when subjected to movements, and it must also be possible to carry out necessary maintenance to the highest of safety standards,” says Bech Gjørv.

Tested in a wave tank
A three metre high model has already been tested successfully in SINTEF Marintek’s wave simulator in Trondheim. The goal of the pilot is to qualify the technology and reduce costs to a level that will mean that floating wind turbines can compete with other energy sources.

“If we succeed, then we will have taken a major step in moving the wind power industry offshore. Floating wind turbines can make a major contribution to providing the world with clean power, but there are major technical and commercial challenges that need to be resolved. If we are to succeed, we will need to cooperate closely with the authorities. As with other technologies for renewable energy, floating wind power will be dependent on incentive schemes to be viable,” says Alexandra Bech Gjørv.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Greendex, a sustainable consumption index

You've read the news—everyone wants to be green now. But do you really know how your personal choices are adding up? What about the choices of your fellow citizens? How well are people around the globe adopting behaviors that can make the world a more environmentally sustainable place?

National Geographic and the international polling firm GlobeScan have just conducted a study measuring and monitoring consumer progress toward environmentally sustainable consumption in 14 countries around the world.

Why? We wanted to give people a better idea of how consumers in different countries are doing in taking action to preserve our planet by tracking, reporting, and promoting environmentally sustainable consumption and citizen behavior.

This quantitative consumer study of 14,000 consumers in a total of 14 countries asked about such behavior as energy use and conservation, transportation choices, food sources, the relative use of green products versus traditional products, attitudes towards the environment and sustainability, and knowledge of environmental issues. A group of international experts helped us determine the behaviors that were most critical to investigate.

The result: the National Geographic/GlobeScan "Consumer Greendex," a scientifically derived sustainable consumption index of actual consumer behavior and material lifestyles across 14 countries. The Greendex will be tracked over time and will be comparable across the selection of countries representing both the developed and developing world.

To provide context for the Greendex results, we developed a "Market Basket," an index of actual consumption in four areas important to environmentally sustainable behavior—energy, transportation, travel, and consumer goods. A Market Basket for each country was assembled using a set of independently collected macroeconomic indicators, gathered by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which mirror, in part, the consumer behavior measured by the Greendex survey. The purpose of the Market Basket is to provide an external estimate of the results of changes in consumer behavior over time. The Greendex, for example, measures things consumers are doing to save energy in a country; the Market Basket measures whether total energy consumption in the country is actually going up or down. The Market Basket will also establish a framework for comparing the relative environmental impact of each country's size and rate of growth, over time.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Magenn power air rotor system tested at TCOM

The prototype for a new wrinkle in the wind-power industry was in Weeksville last week for airborne tests.

Known as MARS, an acronym for the Magenn Power Air Rotor System, the device is a lighter-than-air turbine that captures wind, converts it into energy and then conducts it via a tether into a power grid or wherever it's needed.

The prototype for the MARS is being developed by Magenn Power Inc., a company based in Ottawa, Canada.

Pierre Rivard, president and CEO of Magenn, said the MARS is intended as a renewable energy source for industrial customers seeking to replace diesel generators or who need to use energy in remote locations.

"We see our product as creating new demand for wind, as opposed to tapping into" the current wind-energy market, Rivard said.

Eventually, however, the MARS could be utilized where conventional wind power is already in use.

A difference between the lighter-than-air turbine and the conventional turbine, Rivard said, is its mobility. Unlike fixed turbines, it's not as dependant on factors such as the availability of open space. It also can be floated above tree lines to access strong and constant wind, he said.

Traditional wind power works best on flat land, where there are fewer obstructions to block wind flow. However, only about 15 percent of the earth's land mass is flat. Rivard says the MARS technology can help provide wind power in areas that aren't flat.

At 30 feet long and 10 feet in diameter, the MARS is held aloft by a conductive tether between 300 and 1,000 feet above ground.

The power generated by Magenn's turbines is also competitive with traditional wind energy, Rivard said. Power from the MARS is projected to cost less than 50-75 cents a kilowatt hour, which is average for energy from traditional wind turbines.

Rivard said the MARS is still in the development stage. Last week, the turbine was inflated and tethered inside the TCOM hangar, then transported to a customer in Virginia for a demonstration.

"We just had our inflation trials last week indoors within the TCOM facility," he said.

Magenn, which registered its MARS patent in 2004, plans to deploy the lighter-than-air turbines at four locations in the next year, Rivard said.

He said his company chose to rent hangar space from TCOM because of the company's expertise in airships and aerostats. Magenn also sought advice on deployment procedures from TCOM, he said.

"TCOM is really one of the most advanced companies in the world for airships," Rivard said.


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Friday, May 02, 2008

EnviroCAB Launches the first carbon-negative taxicab company in the world

EnviroCAB (, the nation’s first all-hybrid taxicab fleet, officially opened for business in greater Washington, D.C. in february. The fleet of hybrid Toyota Priuses, Camrys and Highlanders and Ford Escapes guarantees passengers environmentally-friendly taxicab service at no additional cost (standard taxicab fares apply).

“We are thrilled to provide the environmentally-conscious with a taxicab service that guarantees a green ride,” said Hans Hess, enviroCAB partner. “By choosing an enviroCAB, passengers are also supporting the offsetting of emissions being spewed by the non-hybrid cabs in our area. We will effectively emit zero carbon dioxide, and we’ll also remove the emissions of two additional existing cabs for every enviroCAB we put on the street through our carbon-negative offset plan.”

EnviroCAB is the first carbon-negative taxicab company in the world and is:
• the first taxicab company within the Washington, D.C. region to put a fleet on the road comprised entirely of fuel-efficient, low-emission hybrid vehicles.
• the first taxicab company in the U.S. to completely offset its own emissions by purchasing “clean-source” offset credits.
• the world’s first carbon-negative taxicab service by offsetting the emissions of 100 of the approximately 685 non-hybrid taxis operating in Arlington,Va.

The company will emit 2.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide less than similarly sized standard taxi vehicles, and will offset an additional 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emission for its fleet to be carbon neutral. By purchasing “clean-source” offset credits, enviroCAB will become carbon-negative by offsetting another 7.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of 100 older, fuel inefficient taxis. The taxicab company is already providing service to all major airports for many corporate clients who are “going green.”

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