Archive for June 2011
Pelamis hosts visit from Climate Change Minister Greg Barker
Minister of State for Energy & Climate Change, Greg Barker MP, visited Pelamis Wave Power yesterday (June 28th) to tour the design and production facilities and see the second Pelamis P2 machine being built for ScottishPower Renewables. The machine, currently undergoing final assembly and commissioning at the quayside in Leith Docks, is due to be tested alongside the first P2 machine owned by German utility giant E.ON, which was first grid connected in October 2010 at the European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney.
An announcement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change today revealed that up to £20 million of DECC’s £200 million budget for low carbon technologies has been earmarked for the UK’s wave and tidal industry. Subject to a value for money assessment, the £20 million is expected to support two projects to test marine power technologies in multiple-machine arrays.
- Greg Barker said:
“Marine power has huge potential in the UK not just in contributing to a greener electricity supply and cutting emissions, but in supporting thousands of jobs in a sector worth a potential £15 billion to the economy to 2050.
“Britain can be a world leader as we have decades of expertise in offshore industries and the most advanced devices are already being developed here. Our geography gives us access to rich marine resources which act as a natural laboratory to test and run devices in realistic conditions, especially in Scotland and the South West where innovative work is already being carried out. The money we’re announcing today will take marine power to the next stage of development in the UK and a step closer to being a real contender in the future energy market.”
Pelamis Wave Power was established in 1998. Following over 12 years of engineering, manufacturing and operational experience, PWP launched their first ‘next generation’ Pelamis machine, the ‘P2’, last spring. The machine, owned by utility customer E.ON, is the first wave machine to be sold in the UK. It is now being tested at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney where it was connected to the grid for the first time in October 2010. The on-going test programme will see the machine exposed to gradually higher sea conditions. To date, in small seas, tests have demonstrated conversion efficiencies of over 70% and a 30 minute average capture width higher than the ultimate theoretical limits of other concepts in the same seas – all in line with expectations for these initial trials.
A second P2 machine has been ordered by ScottishPower Renewables and is now in the final stages of commissioning in Leith Docks, before heading up to Orkney to join the E.ON machine at EMEC this year in a novel collaborative arrangement for the sharing of trialling data and operational costs.
The Pelamis has five tube sections linked by hinged joints. Floating on the sea surface, in offshore water depths greater than 50m incoming waves cause the tube sections to move relative to one another, causing bending movements at the joints of the machine. This movement is resisted by hydraulic cylinders which pump fluid into high pressure storage accumulators allowing electricity generation to be smooth and continuous. Hydraulic motors drive generators to produce electricity. All equipment is housed inside the machine and power is transmitted to shore using standard subsea cables. Several machines can be connected together and linked to shore through a single subsea cable.
PWP has several commercial projects in the pipeline, including customer led developments from E.ON and ScottishPower Renewables and a joint venture with Vattenfall; with all projects having been successfully awarded an Agreement for Lease from The Crown Estate.
A new centre to develop and test offshore wind energy condition monitoring technologies is to be opened at the University of Strathclyde.
Professor Jim McDonald, principal of the university, explains that the Centre for Advanced Condition Monitoring – a partnership between the University, SgurrEnergy and David Brown Gear Systems – will develop techniques to improve offshore wind farm availability and reduce the need for expensive, reactive offshore maintenance.
Researchers at the Centre will initially focus on technology to monitor the condition of offshore gearboxes, using remote sensors to detect how they are affected by extreme wind conditions.
“With its vast natural resources and engineering expertise, the UK, and Scotland in particular, are ideally positioned to be world-leading in renewable energy,” comments McDonald.
“However, to achieve our ambitious energy targets and realise the potential of offshore wind, it is critical that we bring together engineering expertise through research collaboration between academia, industry and the public sector,” he continues.
The news comes just weeks after the university unveiled plans for the Technology and Innovation Centre at Strathclyde (TIC). The new wind energy maintenance centre will work in parallel with TIC and support the UK’s offshore wind industry.
“Offshore wind projects can be difficult working environments and consequently costs can be extremely high,” states Ian Irvine, technical director at SgurrEnergy. “So quality information on wind farm operational performance is essential to ensure that optimum decisions can be made. We are delighted to be part of this exciting partnership.”
And Ian Farquhar, managing director for wind energy at David Brown, adds: “Collaborations across research and technology are central to our work… This collaborative research programme will enable David Brown to develop leading edge condition monitoring technologies and is a great opportunity to bring the very best thinking to the wind industry.”
Author: Brian Tinham , editor of Plant Engineer magazine. Article reproduced by permission.
This article originally appeared in Plant Engineer
SNP Government outline Crown Estate proposals
The SNP Government published its proposals for devolution of Scotland’s Crown Estate yesterday. If implemented, this would give the Scottish Parliament control over the seabed up to 12 miles offshore.
Alex Salmond made the announcement at the National Economic Forum in Edinburgh yesterday, where he said that control over the Crown Estate would allow proper management of the country’s important marine assets and would ensure that local communities can benefit from the development of offshore renewables.
The SNP pledged in its manifesto to create a Fund for Future Generations which would help harness Scotland’s marine energy potential for the benefit of all Scotland’s people.
Speaking at the event Mr Salmond said:
“The time is right for the archaic legislation governing the Crown Estate to be brought into line with the realities of devolution in a modern Scotland, accountable to the Scottish Parliament and its people and delivering direct benefits to our communities.
“The Scottish Government has the lead role in exploiting our nation’s considerable potential for renewable energy – including responsibility for economic development as well as both land-based and marine planning. Yet it is the Crown Estate Commissioners who grant leases for offshore projects and there is no obligation on the CEC to work in partnership with our economic development bodies.
“The CEC even have the power to sell Scottish assets, including the seabed and important historic sites – all without the need to even consult the Scottish Government. This is position is simply unacceptable and completely incompatible with the principles of devolution.
“Scotland’s seabed and marine natural resources are a vital part of our economy and offer the greatest opportunity for growth. It is right that Scotland should be able to manage these assets – both as a matter of natural justice and to have the best opportunity to deliver growth in renewable energy. There is cross-party support for this position with the Scottish Parliament voting for this view earlier this month. However the most powerful mandate for change came from the people in the election.
“We are continuing to press the UK Government for unfettered access to Scotland’s £200 million Fossil Fuel Levy funds, to support investment in green energy and create jobs and boost communities’ benefits from our massive renewables resources.”
The paper can be viewed here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/Recent/CrownEstate-22-06-11
Wello’s Penguin Device Arrives in Orkney Waters
Wello Oy’s Penguin wave energy device has completed its voyage from Riga Shipyard in Latvia to Orkney and arrived in Lyness yesterday for final fettling prior to being deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) wave energy test site at Billia Croo near Stromness.
The 1600-tonne Penguin device is around 30 metres long, nine metres in height and has a draft of around seven metres. As a result, only two metres are visible above the water surface. It is the product of a five-year development programme, which saw the size of prototype devices gradually increased until the current 500 kilowatt (kW) model which is to be tested at EMEC.
The Penguin is designed to capture rotational energy generated by the movement of its asymmetrically shaped hull, which rolls, heaves and pitches with each passing wave. This motion is used to accelerate and maintain the revolutions of a spinning flywheel housed inside the hull, which in turn drives an electric generator to produce electricity that is then exported via a subsea cable.
Wello’s Chief Executive Officer, Heikki Paakkinen commented: “We are delighted that the Penguin will be deployed in Orkney, which has established itself as the leading location in the world for marine energy developments.”
“EMEC was the natural choice for the test programme. The centre has an excellent reputation and we can expect all the facilities we need as Penguin is put thought its paces in some challenging wave conditions.”
In Orkney Penguin’s entire deployment programme will be managed by a team of Orkney-based companies, led by Stromness-based consultancy Aquatera and new marine operations management company, Orcades Marine Management Consultants.
Gareth Davies, Managing Director of Aquatera said: “Aquatera, Orcades Marine and our partners have unsurpassable local knowledge of sea conditions around Orkney, coupled with world-leading experience and expertise of testing marine renewables devices. This enables our team to provide Wello with holistic operational support for the deployment and testing of the Penguin device at EMEC’s wave energy test site.”
The Penguin arriving at Lyness
Review: The God Species by Mark Lynas
The Mark Lynas who wrote this book has travelled a long way from the environmental activist who once threw a custard pie in the face of a climate denialist who annoyed him. The dramatic appeal of his second book, ‘Six Degrees’ – presented as a series of increasingly alarming horror movies – thrust him into the environmental limelight. Now this book – his third – sees him staking his claim as a deep thinker and solver of problems rather than just another climate alarmist.
‘The God Species’ is a tale of the Anthopocene age – the age of man, where humanity is the primary force shaping the future environment. Its subtitle – ‘How the planet can survive the age of humans’ – is an early indication that this may be a more optimistic Lynas than the author of Six Degrees. The book travels far beyond the basic climatic remit of his previous works, examining nine ‘planetary boundaries’ we need to consciously manage in order to keep the Earth a comfortable place to live.
Climate change is one obvious boundary. Another well know and widely discussed boundary is biodiversity loss - avoiding the ‘sixth extinction’ that many believe we are heading for. The other limitations - in no particular order - are water use, reactive nitrogen in the biosphere, land use, aerosols, toxins, ocean acidification and the ozone layer. Many of these are shown to be intertwined. Ocean acidification, for example, is a product of increased atmospheric CO2, and thus inextricably linked to climate change. Some of these boundaries have been allocated well-defined values while others – such as aerosols – are much harder to arrive at a value for. (Aerosols in particular play both a black hat and a white hat role in global temperature regulation).
The science and arithmetic behind these boundaries is delivered in a straightforward and entertaining way. The book is extremely easy to read in spite of the huge sweep of scientific ground it covers. Sprinkled throughout are the ‘magic bullets’ that the author is currently promoting as key tools in our planetary management armoury. These include lots of nuclear power, genetically modified crops, the privatisation of water management and the continuing movement of population from the country to the city. ‘Conventional’ environmental groups such as Greenpeace come in for some pretty harsh criticism for their opposition to some of these remedies, and are presented almost as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
We have already crossed three of the planetary boundaries, but overall the tone is upbeat and optimistic. Retaking the ozone boundary was our first dramatic success, and can be seen as a good omen. Lynas belives we can now claw our way back below the 350ppm CO2 boundary – and that we can do it without cutting consumption or radically changing our habits. Nuclear-charged electric cars, biofuelled jets and continuing economic growth mean it will be business as usual in the low carbon future he envisages. The optimism is counterpointed somewhat by the author’s brief review of the international process so far at Kyoto, Copenhagen and Cancun – the despair of the final sterile hours of Copenhagen comes across particularly well – but overall this is an upbeat book.
Where the author’s tone grates a little is in his apparent determination at times to be controversial for its own sake, to rub low-carbon nuclear power in the faces of ‘traditional’ environmentalists and to ostentatiously court the right wing with his rosy promises of continued growth in a zero carbon free market. I am not saying that there is no merit in his ideas - there is, in most of them – and I am sure that many of a ‘dark green’ persuasion will lighten up a little after reading this book. The worry is that perhaps he has the scent of personal success in his nostrils and could be tempted to say anything controversial for column inches or media time. A recent personal blog entry criticising the IPCC had climate deniers welcoming him to the dark side, but I think (and hope) that they will be disappointed.
As I said at the beginning of this review, Mark Lynas has come a long way from the green (in every sense) environmentalist of ten years ago. I look forward to seeing where his journey takes him next. This book is thought provoking, challenging to both camps in the climate war and well worth its purchase price – get the Kindle version for the best environmental bang for your buck.
‘The God Species’ by Mark Lynas was published by Fourth Estate on July 7th and is available from Amazon UK.